Mmamaila Mathye

Not welcome: Mmamaila Mathye, 61, a Shangaan, lives in Leretseni, about 20km from the Modjadji royal village of Sehlakoni. Although Leretseni is one of the 150 villages under the leadership of the Baobedu royals (Modjadji), Mathye may not attend the queen's funeral because of clashes between the Shangaan and Balobedu tribes. Photo: Neo Ntsoma, The Star

It’s pouring – not just raining – for the Balobedu since the death of the tribe’s head, Rain Queen Makobo Modjadji VI.

Her funeral will not be held on Thursday as planned because two rival royal councils claim the right to organise the funeral.

The queen’s grandfather, Clement Modjadji, who is also the tribe’s spokesperson, sits on the Royal Council.

But on Wednesday, a rival council – reported to include the late queen’s lover and father of her 3-month-old child – claimed to have the right to bury her.

The rival council was apparently established three months ago.

The queen’s lover is a former municipal worker from the Greater Letaba area in Polokwane, Limpopo.

It also emerged on Wednesday that the queen’s younger brother, News Mpapatla Modjadji, 25, disappeared last Friday and has still not been found.

Modjadji (the queen’s grandfather) said they had laid a complaint with the police against the new council to stop them “interfering in the royal house’s affairs”.

“We haven’t met with them and we don’t even know them personally. We don’t think they have the knowledge of the traditional custom to bury the queen.

“Our council is represented by the elders who know all the rituals to be performed,” the grandfather said.

He added that he did not know when the case would be heard in court.

Asked if the case was the main reason why the funeral was being postponed, Modjadji said it was partly because of that.

However, the main reason was the disappearance of the queen’s younger brother.

The “new council” could not be reached for comment on Wednesday night.

Mpapatla Modjadji went missing on the same day that his queen sister was admitted to Polokwane Medi-Clinic, where she died two days later.

It is believed that Mpapatla Modjadji, who works at Greater Letaba Municipality as an artisan, left the Modjadji Royal Kraal in Sehlakoni where he lived, telling friends he was going to Uganda with his colleagues and would return on July 1.

He is on leave from the municipality.

The family, however, are concerned and say he is missing because he did not inform anyone in the royal household that he was going to Uganda.

“We can’t locate him. His cellphone is off,” his grandfather said.

“We learnt that he took leave to go to Uganda. We have contacted the police about his disappearance and they are helping with the search. The department of home affairs has also been contacted.”

June 16 2005
By Ndivhuwo Khangale