Impact Of Chief Ndiweni’s Case On Traditional Courts

Outspoken traditional leader, Chief Nhlanhla Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna was recently convicted of vandalism of properties belonging to one of his subjects.

He was then sentenced to effective 18 months in prison.

The subject, Fetti Mbele, had been banished for readmitting his adulterous wife the chief had banished.

Powers of the traditional courts are derived from the Constitution and banishing of subjects for various offences is within traditional leaders’ powers.

Harry Peter Wilson, Daily News correspondent and president of DOP, observes that the conviction and sentencing of Ndiweni sets a bad precedent for future cases. Wilson said:

The jailing of outspoken traditional leader, Chief Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, who is accused of destroying his subject, Fetti Mbele’s property with the assistance of 23 villagers, for 24 months, will set a bad precedence in that judgments by traditional courts will in future be challenged at the magistrates’ courts.

This means that traditional courts have been effectively stripped off of some of their powers which are however provided for in the Constitution.

Other courts will likely be scared off from giving befitting judgements fearing that they would be dragged to the Magistrates court.

The Royal Crown Council, which oversees the Ndebele kingship and other traditional issues, issued a press statement in which they expressed that the imprisonment of a chief for carrying out his duties was equal to imprisoning his people’s culture, traditions and customs.

The Council believe that Ndiweni’s incarceration is an attack on the integrity of the traditional leadership and customary law court system.

More: Daily News

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