The Qiniselani Manyuswa Traditional Council is concerned the abduction of acting chief Makhosandile Ngcobo could widen family cracks that have long plagued them over a succession.
The council appointed Ngcobo as a regent in June last year while a pending paternity investigation led to a succession battle within the family. There was an attempt on his life three months later.
“He took on this role to give the family time to resolve conflict and for the rightful heir to take on this responsibility,” an elder in the family, who asked not to be identified due to fear for his safety, told TimesLIVE.
The elder said the family had already decided on the succession but the man identified to hold the chieftaincy, giving the Ngcobo clan its “rightful heir”, could not ascend to the throne as the son of the late chief because his paternity was under question and the family interdicted the process.
“Instead of the young man consenting to the paternity test, his mother involved lawyers and we have been in limbo.
“We agreed in a meeting with the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs that there will be a regent until a paternity test is done to ascertain if he is indeed the child of the late chief because the family has always been suspicious,” said the elder.
Asked why the family did not raise the paternity question when the chief was still alive, the elder said: “We did not want to destroy his marriage.”
Mqondisi Ngcobo, the son of the abducted acting chief, shed light on events leading to his father’s disappearance four days ago.
Mqondisi said on Monday at about 8pm, five men broke a gate lock, took him and a security guard to the main house and demanded to be shown where his father was.
“They were dressed in police uniforms. When we got in the lounge, where my mother and sisters were, the men told us to lie on our stomachs. They were heavily armed,” he said.
The intruders allegedly broke the acting chief’s bedroom and bathroom doors and captured him.
“They bound us. They took my mother to the safe and took money, guns, some paperwork and all our phones.
“They then took my father and said they are going to talk to him and that he would find someone he did not expect to see in the car outside.”
Mqondisi said one of the vehicles was a Hyundai with blue lights and second was a dark colour.
“They were violent, especially when we asked them questions. While we were not entirely convinced they were real police due to their behaviour, they had full police uniforms. It took us a while to seek help,” said Mqondisi.
A relative who was restrained elsewhere was able to free himself and the family.
It was only two hours later that they called the police and it soon became clear no police officers had been dispatched to arrest the acting chief.
“The police who arrived told us other officers would come in the morning to take a statement. They told us to go sleep,” said Mqondisi.
The family did not want to speculate on the reason for the abduction.
“This is not the first attempt on his life. He was attacked and he gave a detailed statement to the police. They must go back there because they know what he told them before he was abducted,” said another family elder, who also did not want to be identified.
The family are adamant “the police will be the ones to solve this”.
“All we are asking for is that they work as quickly and as thoroughly as they can because a life is at risk.”
There has been no communication from the abductors, Mqondisi said.
“Nobody knows if they killed him because they tried and failed. Now that they took him and are quiet, we are extremely worried.”
The family has called a meeting.
“Our biggest fear is that this situation could lead to more violence if the police do not resolve it and the family does not sit down and talk. Since October we have known some people are out for his blood. There is no telling what will happen if he is not found in one piece,” said the elder.
Asked if the two men vying for the chieftaincy would be at the meeting, a family spokesperson could not say.
Hawks spokesperson Capt Simphiwe Mhlongo said an investigation into the abduction was under way.
“We can confirm Hawks members from Port Shepstone serious organised crime unit are assisting in the investigation.”