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Lawyers Question Judge On Potential Conflict Of Interest As Fight For Zulu Throne Heats Up

The battle for the Zulu throne is on, as fierce arguments were heard in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg, including a conflict of interest with the presiding judge.

Judge Mjabuliseni Isaac Madondo came under fire after Nigel Redman SC, the lawyer for Queen Sibongile Winifred, requested that the court rule on a potential conflict of interest.

He said Madondo had apparently presided over the wedding of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and Queen Zola Mafu.

“Our client contends if there was a presiding in a marriage ceremony, it may impact on the lordship in this matter. We require the court to take an opportunity to investigate this matter.

“Validity of the customary marriages is one of the main issues your worship. We request the matter stand down until tomorrow [Wednesday] to give the applicants the opportunity to fully investigate and if so, to bring an application at the earliest opportunity.”

Madondo said the issue of his recusal would be rolled over.

“The matter is to be rolled over to tomorrow [Wednesday] to decide whether it is appropriate that I recuse myself because I have once presided over one of his marriages.”

Arguments for validity of marriages

Arguing the core issues of the applications, Redman contested the only person valid in marriage to the late king was Queen Winifred.

He said she sought to declare that the customary marriages to Zwelithini were invalid.

Madondo, however, stated this was not specifically requested in the application to the court.

“If validity of the other marriages was the intention, why was that not clearly spelt out?”

Redman said he was willing to bring forward an amended application.

“If there was a question as to the validity, perhaps your lordship feels it should be dealt with more succinctly. Inevitably, the relief has to show the invalidity of the other marriages. If one looks at the affidavit – the applicant says she is married to late isilo in law; it precedes any other marriage including customary marriage.

“Perhaps we will seek an amendment; the court is entitled to grant an amendment.”

On behalf of Prince Misuzulu, advocate Griffiths Madonsela SC said the reason both parties were in court was because “the relief that the applicant queen seeks lacks clarity”.

“It is unnecessary. The reason we are all here is because they brought up papers that lack clarity. Now, we have to go through history in common and customary law because of this.”

He argued in her founding affidavit, Winifred inadvertently accepted the late king’s previous marriages were valid.

“There is no relief [sought] from the queen to challenge head-on the validity of the marriages. She accepted that the marriages are valid.”

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