Court finds King Misuzulu's crowning as Zulu king unlawful

The Pretoria high court held that the appointment of King Misuzulu kaZwelithini is unlawful and the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa should be set aside

11 December 2023 - 19:30
By Rorisang Kgosana
King Misuzulu kaZwelithini arrives at KwaKhangela Royal Palace to grace the annual  Umkhosi Wesivivane. File photo.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini arrives at KwaKhangela Royal Palace to grace the annual Umkhosi Wesivivane. File photo.

The Pretoria high court has ruled the crowning and recognition of King Misuzulu kaZwelithini by President Cyril Ramaphosa as the king of the Zulu nation unlawful and invalid.

This after the royal family approached the courts to determine the rightful heir as Misuzulu's brother Prince Simakade Zulu claimed he was entitled to the throne. However, the king’s uncle, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, believed the family should reconvene to identify an heir.

Judge Norman Davis handed down his reserved judgment on Monday where he stated Misuzulu’s recognition as contained in the Government Gazette of March 17 2022 should be set aside.

He ordered Ramaphosa to act in accordance with the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act to appoint an investigative committee.

Its purpose would be to probe and report back on the allegations that the identification process of Misuzulu was not done in terms of customary laws and customs.

However, the judgment is not to determine who is the rightful king of the AmaZulu, Davis said, as that is not what the applicants had tried to contest in court.

“The applicants brought two review applications and the court was required to determine those. The first was whether the incumbent king, Misuzulu kaZwelithini Zulu, has been appointed as king in terms of Zulu custom and the second was whether the president had correctly recognised the present king in terms of the … act,” said Davis.

Davis ordered Ramaphosa to pay the legal costs of the applicants, including their two counsel.

In his arguments last month, Marumo Moerane SC, who represented Ramaphosa, said the president and the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs issued the kingship certificate based on the judgment of KwaZulu-Natal deputy judge president Isaac Madondo in March 2022.

Madondo had found that Misuzulu was the “undisputed successor to the throne” at the Pietermaritzburg high court after several applications. One was by Mbonisi Zulu, who tried to interdict the coronation of Misuzulu, which Madondo denied.

Moerane had argued that Ramaphosa acted on the advice and permission of the Zulu prime minister, the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who was at a family meeting on May 14 2021 where the identity of the new king was decided.

Davis said Ramaphosa had “erred in law” by not following the preemptive provisions set out in the act.

“This renders his recognition decision susceptible to review,” he said.