Former president Jacob Zuma's decision to appoint Toni Mphephu Ramabulana as the acting king of VhaVenda was unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled on Friday.
The judgment said "his appointment was ruled to be illegal and unconstitutional".
"It is declared that the decision of the eighth respondent of 14 August 2010 to identify the first respondent as a suitable person to be appointed as the King of the VhaVenda Traditional Community is unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid and is renewed and set aside."It declared that the decisions of the eighth respondent to identify and that of the second respondent to recognise the first respondent as King of VhaVenda are based on a criteria (sic) that promotes gender discrimination, and are reviewed and set aside in that the discrimination impedes compliance with the provisions of section 2A(4)(c) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Act 23 of 2009, to progressively advance gender representation in the succession to the position of king or queen of VhaVenda," the ruling stated.
This comes after his niece, Princess Masindi Mphephu, was granted an interdict to challenge a High Court ruling which recognised Mphephu-Ramabulana as the rightful VhaVenda king. As a result, the government halted the coronation of the Venda King.
Masindi believed that she was the rightful heir to the throne.
She is the daughter of the late VhaVenda paramount chief, Tshimangadzo Dimbanyika Mphephu.Chief Tshimangadzo Mphephu reigned from 1994 until he died in a car crash in December 1997. His younger brother, Toni, was installed as the new king and was given the title of King Mphephu-Ramabulana, SABC News reported.
The court heard that Masindi believed she was overlooked for the throne because of a cultural practice that endorsed only males for kingship, the Citizen reported.
Mphephu-Ramabulana made headlines last year when he was one of those named in the infamous VBS bank report The great bank heist .
The report, compiled by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, revealed large-scale plundering amounting to close to R2bn.Ramabulana was named as one of those who benefited from the largesse the bank's bosses dished out, News24 previously reported.
Following the revelation, the VhaVenda King vowed to pay back the money he received from VBS Mutual Bank as "tainted gifts".