Dispute on Cala headmanship to be heard in court
Published by The Legal Resources Centre 24 October 2019
For Immediate Release: 23 October 2019
On Thursday, 24 October 2019 the High Court in Bhisho will hear an application to review and set aside the appointment of Mr. Ndodenkulu Jackson Yolelo as the headman of the Cala Reserve. The appointment is being challenged by Mr Gideon Sitwayi who was elected as the new headman in 2013 in accordance with the customary law of the community and the Eastern Cape Traditional Leadership and Governance Act 4 of 2005. Mr. Sitwayi is represented by the Legal Resources Centre He is joined by five other community members as well as the Cala Reserve Local Planning Committee that represents members of the Cala Reserve.
In 2013, the community of the Cala Reserve elected Mr. Sitwayi as their new headman in accordance with their customary laws. Despite this, Mr. Yolelo was recommended by the Royal Family and the Gcina Traditional Council as the headman, and his appointment was confirmed by the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs.
In 2015 the Supreme Court of Appeal confirmed a 2014 High Court decision to set aside the appointment of Mr Yolelo on the basis that the appointment did not comply with the customary laws of the community.
Instead of recognising Mr Sitwayi as the headman, the Respondents then purported to hold a new “election” where Mr Yolelo was again imposed as the headman of the Cala Reserve. This has prompted the applicants to again approach the court to review and set aside the second “election” as unlawful and inconsistent with the customary laws of the Cala Reserve.
The Legal Resources Centre will argue on behalf of Mr. Sitwayi and the other Applicants that Mr. Sitwayi is the duly elected headman of the Cala Reserve. His election was already affirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2015. The decision to wilfully ignore the findings of the court and arbitrarily impose Mr Yolelo as the headman is unlawful. Furthermore, Mr. Yolelo is barred from being the headman of the Cala Reserve due to his criminal record.
This case is important as it seeks to recognise the customary laws of the community and ensure that traditional leaders do not exercise their powers in an arbitrary manner.
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