1963 – The late William Khumalo became chief of Amantungwa clan after his father’s death and ruled until his died in 1963. He left four sons, Johan Madende, Gadi, Girsten and Simon Mgobo. Enoch Jele Khumalo was appointed as acting chief after William death and he was succeeded by yet another acting chief, Cain Khumalo who ruled until his demise in 1982.


1984 – On 31 October 1984 a meeting was held at the magistrates’ office, Utrecht, to discuss the issue of the succession to the chieftainship. William’s four sons were present at this meeting but none of them wished to take up the reins. A recommendation was made that Latu Robson Khumalo be appointed as temporary chief.


1985 – On 5 November 1985 Latu Robson was taken to the Head of Traditional Affairs in Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN), King Zwelithini Zulu, ‘to be anointed and prepared to take over as Chief of Amantungwa’.


1986 – Latu Robson Khumalo is appointed as temporary chief on 20 March 1986 under the Black Administration Act of 1927 following the late chief William’s sons’ refusal to take over the chieftaincy. 


The rest of the 1980s and early 1990s


Acting chief Latu Robson makes a number of representations to the Department of Land Affairs requesting for the re-allocation of certain properties in the Utrecht area to the Amantungwa community who were dispossessed of their land during apartheid and the colonial years.


1994 – South Africa’s Commission on Restitution for Land Rights is established.


1997 – Amantungwa Development Trust (ADT) is founded and registered so that the land that acting chief Latu Robson has claimed can be transferred into the trust. The trust’s purpose is to hold the land on behalf of the beneficiaries who belong to the Amantungwa clan.


On 9 July 1997, nine trustees for ADT are elected with the acting chief Latu Robson recognized as the founder of the trust.


1998 – Acting chief Latu Robson Khumalo lodges a claim for 131 properties on behalf of the Amantungwa community. The claimed is lodged on 17 December 1998.


Patrick Sphamandla Khumalo, grandson of the late chief William and son of Simon Mgobo, lives in Latu Robson’s household during 1997 and 1998 to “receive” training to be chief. According to Patrick Sphamandla’s affidavit submitted to the court he was to be trained until he matriculated.


The 2000s – A coal mine is discovered in an area called Uitkomst which falls under the Amantungwa clan jurisdiction – it is part of the 131 properties acting chief Latu Robson claimed on behalf of Amantungwa.


2004 – The regional Land Claims Commissioner of KZN, Thabi Shange, issues a notice to acting chief Latu Robson Khumalo stating that the a claim for the restitution of land rights on the 131 properties have been lodged with the regional land claims commissioner and that the commission on restitution of land rights will investigate the claim.


A company called Brandwine Valley Investments conducts an Environmental Management Programme Report of the Uitkomst area in April 2004. Acting chief Latu Robson and Jabulani Msibi of Qophumlando community are consulted to submit their environmental and social concerns if a mine were to operate in the area.


2005 – Brandywine Valley Investments receives mining rights on 7 September 2005 in the Uikomst Colliery and prepares to start construction on the mine.


Chris Le Roux of Khethekile Mining (contracted to extract coal on the mine) holds community meetings with acting chief Latu Robson where he promises Amantungwa community will benefit once the mine starts operating. Promises to build roads and schools, and to employ the locals are made.


2006  – The mine is officially opened.


Simon Mgobo son of the late chief William writes a letter to the Department of Traditional Affairs saying that it is time the chieftaincy of Amantungwa be restored to the rightful house and that his eldest son Patrick Sphamandla should take over as chief as he is too old and unfit to lead.


A meeting is held on 18 September 2006 at Madadeni Margistrate’s Office and the family tree is drawn to determine who the rightful chief should be.


Simon Mgobo later stated, in his affidavits submitted to court, that he and other members of the royal family ‘wished to regularize the situation’ but according to the Supreme Court of Appeals judgement in 2010 “he failed to identify those ‘other members’.


There is no evidence that Umdeni (clan) of Amantungwa ever met to discuss the issue of Patrick Sphamandla as chief of Amantungwa.


2007 – The KZN land commission recommends that acting chief Latu Robson should open a new trust called the Izimbuthu Community Trust (ICT) saying it will speed up their claim.


Acting chief Latu Robson registers the new trust, ICT.


18 properties from the original Amantungwa claim are transferred into ICT.


Acting chief Latu Robson receives a letter from the Department of Local Government Housing and Traditional Affairs on 10 October 2007 informing him that the Executive Council of the KZN Province had met on 29 August 2007 and decided that his services as acting chief of Amantungwa be terminated. Patrick Sphamandla Khumalo, son of Simon Mgobo was to be appointed as Chief of Amantungwa.


Latu Robson’s appointment as acting chief is terminated on 31 October 2007.


2008 – Umdeni of Amantungwa and Latu Robson take the Department of Traditional Affairs and Patrick Sphamandla to court to contest his chieftaincy.


On 30 January 2008, Umdeni of Amantungwa and Latu Robson win the first round of three court proceedings. Patrick Sphamandla is interdicted and restrained from removing Latu Robson as chief of Amantungwa. Patrick Sphamandla and the Department of Traditional Affairs are ordered to submit their counter arguments by 25 April 2008, so that their case may be heard on why the court order should not be granted as final on the matter.


On 5 March 2008, Umdeni of Amantungwa and Latu Robson institute motion proceedings against the Department of Traditional Affairs seeking an order to remove Patrick Sphamandla as chief and that Latu Robson be reinstated as chief. Patrick Sphamandla and the Department of Traditional Affairs oppose the application stating that Latu Robson was never appointed as chief of Amantungwa but only as acting chief. The application is dismissed by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.


2010 – The land commission tells Amantungwa community to dissolve ICT, which it initial advised them to open, stating that the existence of two separate entities within the community results into chaos within the community. The decision is made at meeting held by the elected trustees of the ICT with officials of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform on 20 January 2010. It is resolved that all properties acquired through the restitution programme and transferred to the ICT trust be transferred to ADT (the original trust).


It is also decided that a new board of trustees be elected for ADT.


Latu Robson and Umdeni of Amantungwa appeal the case relating to the chieftaincy at the Supreme Court of Appeal. The appeal is dismissed.


Beneficiaries of the properties that are supposed to be transferred back to ADT trust are chased off their land. About 15 different families are chased off their farms. Their properties are rented out to white farmers, but the money doesn’t come to them. Patrick Sphamandla and two suspended trustees of ICT are accused of taking the money for the rent. 


2011 – Patrick Sphamandla starts to perform his duties officially as chief.


The Department of Traditional Affairs builds him a home and buys him a car. He also gets married.


An irrigation system sponsored by the Department of Public works for the community garden and which cost over a million is stolen. The community of Amantungwa accuse Patrick Sphamandla of stealing and selling the irrigation system. When they report the matter to the police, the police tell them Patrick Sphamandla has already told them he will be taking the irrigation system.


Chief Patrick Sphamandla is accused of a number of corrupt acts including theft of fences and leasing out land beneficiaries’ sites to people from the city without the owners’ consent and charging them a R1000 per site.


2012 – Latu Robson receives a letter from the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nomsa Dube, reminding him that Patrick Sphamandla is the recognized chief and warning him that in the ‘event that you should continue interfering with the official duties of iNkosi Patrick Khumalo and the traditional council, the department will have no option but to lodge an urgent application against you, to request that the Court find you in in contempt of Court, together with an application for a warrant of your arrest’.


Latu Robson passes away in February 2012 due to a long-lasting illness.


The late Latu Robson’s wife Mrs Ndlunkulu Khumalo with the support of Amantungwa clan takes over baton in the fight against chief Patrick Sphamandla’s rule.


Two years since the decision was made to dissolve ICT and transfer the properties back to ADT, but the community say this has not happened. No one knows what is happening to their land.


Corruption Watch receives a complaint from a member of the Amantungwa clan alleging that the Department of Traditional Affairs is recognizing a bogus chief (Patrick Sphamandla) and that they’re using him to gain access to the land of Amantungwa undermining the rightful custodians of the land.


22 June 2012 – Corruption Watch goes to Utrecht to investigate the matter.