A traditional leader in the OR Tambo district‚ AmaMpondo Chief Velile Alfred Mkono‚ will finally be laid to rest this weekend 672 days since his death‚ after a prolonged legal battle over his estate by his two wives.
Mkono‚ 69‚ of Ndanya Administrative Area in Ngqeleni outside Mthatha died on November 7, 2015 of natural causes.
His body racked up a storage bill of R450,000 at the Eastern Cape Burials Funeral Parlour in Mthatha.
Mkono was supposed to have been buried on Saturday November 21, 2015 but his ex-wife Noncedile Mildred Mkono‚ 74‚ brought forward an urgent court interdict on the eve of the funeral preventing the chief’s wife Nonzwakazi Elizabeth Mkono‚ 60‚ from burying him.
Two weeks later‚ on December 3 2015, Noncedile launched another High Court application seeking relief from the court to rescind her divorce from Mkono and an order to declare the chief’s 1987 marriage to Nonzwakazi null and void. Noncedile further sought relief for another order to declare the chief’s February 2014 will to be null and void on the basis that its signature was forged and another order to declare the will in her possession to be the only valid will of the deceased.
The matter was heard for over a year on 10 occasions. In the end‚ Mthatha High Court Judge Neville Brooks found Noncedile’s application was “misguided or ill-advised”.
The court heard that prior to instituting the application at the high court Noncedile should have forseen that‚ to dispute a signature appended to a decreased Last Will and Testament‚ one should rely on expert evidence and not solely on unproven statements and that in the dispute service of a divorce summons‚ the relevant Sheriff’s Office should be joined as a party to the proceedings.
Brooks refused all relief sought and dismissed Noncedile’s application on October 2016.
Noncedile then sought leave to appeal Brooks’ judgment and that application was dismissed by Judge Nozuko Mjali on November 2016‚ a year after Mkono’s death.
Two weeks after Mjali’s ruling‚ Noncedile died in a car accident.
Her son Celuxolo Mkono‚ continued with the legal battle by launching an application for leave to appeal the two Mthatha High Court judgments with the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on May 7 2017‚ six months after Mjali’s ruling.
In her impassioned responding affidavit to the SCA Nonzwakazi told the court: “Since his demise until now the deceased is still in the mortuary awaiting burial. At the time of making this affidavit‚ he has been in the mortuary for one year and six months. The financial costs of this is astronomical and is solely caused by the vexatiousness of the applicant and his now deceased mother.
“In December 2016 the funeral parlour indicated that their account already exceeded R300 000. The emotional costs to my family and I are equally astronomical as we do not have a grave to visit and we know that his spirit is not resting‚” Nonzwakazi wrote.
The SCA dismissed Celuxolo’s application for special leave to appeal on May 30 2017 with cost after the court heard that the applicant failed to point out any misdirection from Judge Brooks and Judge Mjali’s judgments. A month later Celuxolo went to the Constitutional Court for an application for leave to appeal the SCA ruling.
The month-long delay caused the Legal Aid South Africa to write in their responding affidavit to the Constitutional Court: “The Applicant’s delay in approaching the SCA and Constitutional Court‚ is indicative of his lack of understanding of the urgency to bury the deceased and of the emotional trauma this is causing to the two respondents [Nonzwakazi and her son Saziso]”.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng dismissed the application for leave to appeal the SCA’s ruling saying: “It does not engage this court’s jurisdiction and lacks prospects of success”.
On August 24 the Mthatha High Court dismissed the order in favour of Noncedile interdicting the funeral. This paved a way for Nonzwakazi to bury her husband on Saturday.
The funeral will be held in Mdlankomo Mpindweni location near Libode.