New twist in the Mvuthu chieftainship battle…as candidate’s rape charge resurfaces

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The succession battle for the Mvuthu chieftainship in Matabeleland North Province which has been ongoing since 2014 has taken a new twist with one of the candidates for the throne, Saunders Mlotshwa sitting on a 1994 rape charge which is apparently still pending.

While some family members had nominated him to take over after the death of Chief Mvuthu in 2014 because the heir, Silibaziso Mlotshwa was not eligible on the basis of being a woman, that nomination was thrown out of the window after the latter took the matter to court and won.

As it stands, the family has been split into two factions with others supporting Silibaziso while the other is supporting Saunders. The latter is son to the late Chief Mvuthu’s younger brother.

However, new details have emerged detailing that Saunders has a criminal record hanging over his head, with a pending rape case (reference Cr350/02/94) at Magwegwe Police Post.

A source close to the developments highlighted that it was this case that was the reason why he relocated to South Africa in 1994.

“Saunders was in the army and while we do not know the circumstances surrounding his departure from service, what we know is that when he left the country he was running away from the rape case which had been filed against him at Magwegwe Police Post,” said the source who requested anonymity.

Meanwhile, some villagers are skeptical about giving the chieftain to an individual who has not resided in the area for over two decades only to return to claim the throne.

To rally support for his nomination, Saunders brought in Mlotshwa relatives, some unknown to the family, from around Zimbabwe at the chief’s nomination meeting at the Hwange District Administrator’s office in back in 2014, which is where it was decided that Silibasizo was not eligible to be chief because she was a woman and unfit to rule.

After the nomination, Silibaziso sought an urgent court interdict against the irregular proceedings and rulings by the High Court, the Supreme Court and Constitutional court were in her favor affirming her right to the throne despite her gender.

Saunders’ father was not a chief and according to Nguni customs, a chief begets a chief meaning the late chief was supposed to be succeeded by his eldest child who in this case is Silibaziso.

“He claims that the late Chief Mvuthu’s eldest daughter is unfit to rule as she is a woman. It would be a travesty of woman’s rights and dignity and a return to the dark ages if this man was to become a chief of the Mvuthu people based on gender,” commented one villager.

Her father, shortly before his death, passed Silibaziso the chief’s stick as it was his wish that his eldest daughter succeeds him.

Saunders is insisting that he should be chief and has been lobbying the family for the past six years to reconsider the decision to appoint Silibaziso.

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