A gallant, visionary and progressive Traditional Leader leaves a legacy: iNkosi Sipho Mahlangu

by HRH Stella Sigcau

19 July 2021

On 16 July 2021, South Africa woke up to the news of the passing of the Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa and Senior Traditional Leader of Ndzundza Mabusa Traditional Council in Mpumalanga, INkosi Sipho Mahlangu. He was the eldest son of the late iNkosi Senzangakhona James Mahlangu and Ndlunkulu Busi, a grandson of the Ndzundza-Mabhoko King Mabusabesala II, and Queen Johanna.

This loss happens at a time when South Africa is faced with the worst kind of instability since democracy on the one hand and the emergence of a new mutation of covid as well as the rise in the reported cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV), a time where visionary, selfless and dedicated leaders like INkosi Mahlangu who lived to serve the people are needed to contribute in this regard for a better life for all South Africans.


He had been one of the leaders who advocated for a stable South Africa and a better life for all where women and children felt safe. This is witnessed through what he stood and worked hard for in his short life, accomplishing so much in a short period of time. A GBV activist he strongly advocated against abuse of women and children and worked with various institutions in this regard including the South African Royal Princess Network. In the Webinar organized by the Network, he made it clear that GBV was unacceptable and a national awareness campaign in this regard was imperative. He led by example as he engaged rural communities whilst organizing various workshops.

He also played an instrumental role in creating awareness on Covid-19 ensuring that traditional leaders play a proactive role working with various stakeholders including government in containing the spread of Covid-19.

A humble and hard working leader, he was committed to poverty alleviation, upholding of culture and heritage as well as economic development in the rural areas. A descendant of the brave King Nyabela who resisted colonialism leading him to be in incarcerated in 1883, Nkosi Mahlangu had a vision of rural communities and Traditional Leaders being in charge of their economy to improve the standard of living of the people and for Traditional Leadership to be inclusive and developmental hence initiating the ‘Invest rural’ strategy and ‘Developmental Monarchs’ programme.

His love for people and his commitment to the unity in a diversity of cultures led to the relations created with other nations including with the Mpondo Kingdom leading to mutual reciprocal support of cultural activities to share and exchange Mpondo and Ndebele cultures and diversity. In 2006 he attended the commemoration of the late ANC liberation activist Nkosi Ntsikayezwe Sigcau and the launch of the Mpondo Culture and Heritage Festival and continued to attend and support various cultural and rural development initiatives and activities in the Mpondo Kingdom. On 30 April 2021, he delivered a key note address where Mpondo Kings and Chiefs were honored by Freedom Park in Pretoria for the role they played in the colonial resistance and in the liberation struggle.

A family man, he lived true to the principles of family values and dedication to his family, wife and children whom he loved dearly.
South Africa and the traditional leadership at large have lost a true patriot, a young progressive leader who made an enormous and instrumental contribution to the Institution of Traditional Leadership, to the preservation of the diverse cultures and heritage of South Africa and to rural development leaving a huge legacy behind.