Mbabane: The construction of a hardware store at the Lawuba Business Center has turned into a legal matter after Acting Chief of KoNtshingila Inkhosatana Gelane Simelane took Prince Velebantfu Dlamini and 11 others to court.
The acting chief filed an urgent application where she is seeking an order to interdict the prince and 11 other respondents from continuing with the alleged illegal construction of a hardware store or extension of any illegal building structure at the Business Centre.
She is further praying for an order interdicting the respondents or anyone acting under their behest from continuing with the construction of a filling station at the Business Centre without the authority of the Mbangweni Umphakatsi under KoNtshingila Chiefdom.
The Acting Chief also wants the court to restrain one Gcina Dlamini, who is the sixth respondent in the matter, from operating a butchery and liquor business at the Business Centre.
Respondents in the matter are Khesaya Dlamini, Bongani ‘Pointer’ Dlamini, Fana ‘Mahhala’ Nhlabatsi, Dumisani Dlamini, Gcina Dlamini, Prince Velebantfu, Chairman of the Swazi Commercial Amadoda Manzini Branch, Winile Nhlabatsi and the chairman of Swazi Commercial Amadoda.
“The respondents are defying authorities of the chiefdom in full view of the community members, giving a bad example which if copied will lead to lawlessness. They are effecting development at Lawuba Business Centre which will call for demolition of these illegal structures in the future, precipitating moral and human rights issues,” argued Simelane. She told the court that there was a likelihood that legitimate and law abiding community members who observe that local authorities were helpless in protecting chiefdom’s assets and order using traditional practices, might take the law into their own hands.
Simelane stated that the KoNtjingila chiefdom had been without a substantive chief for the past 30 years since the demise of Chief Mabonya Simelane in 1986. She recounted that immediately after the demise of Chief Mabonya; she then became the acting chief from 1989 to date. She pointed out the KoNtjingila chiefdom was currently awaiting the blessing of a substantive chief by His Majesty the Ingwenyama and installation thereafter following the registration of the designate substantive chief in 2014. Simelane alleged that in the absence of the substantive chief, the area has been characterized by chieftaincy disputes emanating from the surrounding chiefdoms which had now encroached into the KoNtjingila chiefdom. She narrated that the first person to establish business at Lawuba Business Centre was Madika Mngometulu, a subject of KoNtjingila, who operated a butchery business for many years.
Meanwhile, Chief Velebantfu Dlamini contended that all the judges of the High Court could not hear and determine the matter between him and Simelane.
“This is because one of the crucial witnesses of Acting Chief Gelane happens to be the incumbent head of the Judiciary and their Lordships have a close working relationship with the chief justice who also exercises administrative role and/or supervisory role over all High Court and Supreme Court judges,” argued the prince.
He further pointed out that the chief justice also sat as chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission which was the body entrusted with the employment, interviews and recommendations for the subsequent appointment of judges. The prince alleged that as such, the judges stood to be prejudiced to decide against their supervisor in a matter where he happened to be a witness in a matter before a particular justice of the High Court.
Argued the prince; “I submit that the nature of the relationship between Bheki Maphalala and their Lordships is such that if their Lordships were to preside over this application, justice will be manifestly and undoubtedly be seen and a reasonable by stander watching the proceedings from afar will not stop murmuring in discontent,” he argued.
According to the prince, the chief justice had a direct, peculiar and substantial interest in the matter as he was the incumbent indvuna of the applicant (Acting Chief Gelane) and he unequivocally aligned himself with the applicant in this matter. “I am not saying the chief justice will influence the outcome of this case but all that I am saying is that their Lordships, who are under his supervision, will be conflicted and prejudiced to possibly decide against the declared interest of the sitting chief justice in matter,” contended the respondent.
The matter is still pending in court and appearing for Simelane is Bheki Tsabedze from the chamber of the attorney general while Khumbulani Msibi is representing the respondents