Ingonyama Trust forensics probe into ‘looting’ of funds

King Misuzulu, left, and iNkosi Thanduyise Mzimela. Picture: Supplied

King Misuzulu, left, and iNkosi Thanduyise Mzimela. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 7, 2023


Durban — The Ingonyama Trust Board chairperson iNkosi Thanduyise Mzimela said he believed those who were opposed to his appointment and currently campaigning for his removal were the ones who would be exposed by the forensic investigation the new board under him had initiated.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily News on Monday, Mzimela said the board had recently taken a resolution to institute a forensic investigation on the alleged looting of the trust’s funds under the previous board. He said he felt it was important to clarify to the Zulu nation why there were such vigorous attempts to prevent him from taking the position and what lay behind the continued attack on him. He said people feared going to jail because the investigations might lead to the prosecution of those who were involved in looting.

“I always knew that by taking this position I will create enemies. We have since discovered that the funds were looted under the previous board, so those who were in charge will have to answer the difficult questions about the handling of the finances and I believe that was the reason why, even months after my appointment, there are people who still want me to be removed,” said Mzimela.

He said he was still the chairperson of the trust board and was not bothered by circulating letters of his dismissal. He said had not received any letter of dismissal from the king.

Mzimela said there were two groups who were opposed to his appointment – the first involved amakhosi and the other was made up of business opportunists using their closeness to the king to enrich themselves.

He said part of the investigators’ job would be to find out what happened to the R41 million which was moved to Ingonyama Holdings, a company that was formed as a business wing of the trust. The investigation would also reveal why amakhosi were not getting their 75% of revenue collected annually by the trust. In terms of the legislation, the king must get 5% of the revenue collected from the business leases on the trust land while 20% goes to the management and the board. The 75% was supposed to be shared between amakhosi for managing the land under the trust.

Inkosi Sifiso Shinga, chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders, said although he was aware that there was money that was supposed to be allocated to amakhosi, he was not aware of any inkosi and his community that had benefited from the trust. He called on the board to be transparent with the trust finances to maintain a good relationship with amakhosi who were managing land for the trust.

Former trust chairperson Judge Jerome declined to take questions, saying if the Daily News wanted to speak to him it must come to him because he preferred to have a face-to-face interview.

The Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs also dismissed rumours of Mzimela’s dismissal. This after a letter to this effect was circulated on social media. The letter that began circulating last month was confirmed by the king’s close confidant Jacob Mnisi as authentic and having been signed by King Misuzulu, but department spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said Mzimela was still at the helm.

Ngcobo said appointments to the Ingonyama Trust Board, especially the chairperson’s position, were not done via social media but through proper communication with Minister Thoko Didiza. He said that the board was functioning well and there was no crisis, and the department was in constant communication with Mzimela as the chairperson.

Mnisi’s proximity to the king is still a subject of concern for some royal family members and amakhosi but he has maintained that his relationship with the king and royal family dates back years ago, and that he has no bad intentions. The relationship was first publicly questioned by Zulu traditional prime minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in a public meeting with amakhosi at Empangeni a few months before his death.

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