LETTER FROM MOUNT FRERE: KwaBhaca village basks in the glory of local boy becoming a nominee for Chief Justice

Zukile Majova

Njijini village in Mount Frere is high up on the mountains, in the middle of a massive natural forest of predominantly wattle trees.

For over a 100 years it had been the leading supplier of free firewood, poles for fencing and for roofing thatch rondavels.

Judge Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga, one of four judges being considered for the position of Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, grew up in these parts, herding cattle and sheep like any other local boy.

Local Induna Sakhiwo Nogwaba says when Justice Madlanga was not herding cattle he was serving the community at his father’s shop which has been right in the middle of the village for almost 50 years.

“I know him very well. I know his father and his mother. When he is here in the village, despite his high position, he becomes like any other man of the village.

“He calls me Bhuti (big brother) and I in turn respect him by not calling him by his name Mbuyiseli but by his clan name Rhadebe.”

The community has proposed that the local Buffalo Neck Junior Secondary School be renamed after his father Phakamile Madlanga.

The old man was a principal at the school.

When Scrolla.Africa visited the village, young and old were all excited by the sheer possibility that one of their own could rise to the very top.

The youth know him to be an advocate for education just like his father before him who encouraged and even contributed to the education of many who became teachers in surrounding villages.

Bongeka Mqokozo, who is Justice Madlanga’s nephew, praised Justice Madlanga for his love of ordinary people.

“When he is around he attends funerals of ordinary people and contributes to assist poor families. It has always been like that with the Madlanga family because even his father would contribute a sheep to assist poor families.

“He is also loved by the youth here in the village. At some point he put together a soccer club for the youth buying them soccer kits and encouraging them to choose sport and not waste their lives drowning in alcohol.”

This weekend the village will be gathered around their television sets waiting to see the outcome of the deliberations on who will be the next Chief Justice.