MBABANE: King Mswati’s son Prince Sicalo has deployed soldiers at Portion 3, Farm 982 at Sicunusa as he intensifies moves to forcefully grab the property from its owner Mandla Mkhaliphi and mine a quarry that was discovered within the farm.
The deployment of the soldiers comes after the Prince through his company Liyabuya Lemaswati(PTY) LTD demanded about E10million from NDI(PTY)LTD, a company owned by retired Nhlangano Magistrate Mandla Mkhaliphi that had secured a contract to supply quarry to Kukhanya Construction during the construction of the now controversial Nhlangano-Scunusa road whose investigation by the Public Accounts Committe(PAC) was allegedly stopped by the King, the Prince through his company was a 15% shareholder at NDI.
According to government documents, the budget for the Nhlangano-Sicunusa Road was E298.22million, however, it was later escalated to E465.99million and highly expected to cost taxpayers E1billion at its final stage after government resolved to engage Inyatsi Construction.
An independent investigation conducted by this Swaziland News obtained crucial evidence suggesting that on or around 23rd May 2012 Prince Sicalo's company Liyabuya Lemaswati(PTY)LTD duly represented by Simon Magagula signed a Joint Venture Agreement with NDI(PTY) LTD to supply Kukhanya Construction with quarry that was mined at Makhaliphi’s Farm, whose value currently stands at over E50million.
But subsequent to the signing of the joint venture, a conflict later erupted between Prince Sicalo and the retired Magistrate, this was after the Prince allegedly demanded about E10million saying the money was collectively demanded by King Mswati, Indlovukazi Queen Ntombi Tfwala and his mother Inkhosikati LaMatsebula as tetfulo (gifts).
Reached for comments, former Magistrate Mandla Mkhaliphi confirmed that his Farm has been seized by the military, he said heavily armed soldiers arrived about four(4) weeks ago to camp at the Farm and now his family was living in fear.
“It’s true, heavily armed soldiers arrived to camp here about four(4) weeks ago, almost on a daily basis army helicopters patrol my Farm and my children are now living in fear. I have contacted relevant people and institutions including the King’s Office to seek clarity as to why soldiers are being deployed in my Farm without any assistance, however , I’m still waiting for an official response from the King's office” ,said the businessman.
Mkhaliphi appealed for assistance from human rights organisations saying as the situation stands, his life and that of his family was now in danger and he doesn't know what to do because almost all relevant institutions in the country are avoiding to address the matter.
Insiders very close to the matter told this publication that Prince Sicalo, shortly after Directors of NDI(PTY)LTD refused to give him the close to E10million he allegedly demanded, threatened Mkhaliphi saying he would prove to him that he was powerful by forcefully grabbing the Farm and its natural resources.
“What we gathered is that Prince Sicalo misled the King that there was gold within the Farm and that the owner was mining it for himself, something that is not true. He did this to justify the deployment of soldiers into the Farm to fight his own business battles”, said an insider.
Reached for comments by this Swaziland News, Lieutenant General Jeffrey Shabalala, the Army Commander said the Ministry of Natural Resources was better positioned to comment on the matter regarding the deployment of soldiers into the Farm.
“I don’t have any comment, it is the Ministry of Natural Resources that should give a comment in this matter”,said the Army Commander.
But Peter Bhembe, the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy when reached for comments by this publication said as the matter involves a private farm, the Ministry of Defense that deployed soldiers and Mandla Mkhaliphi being the owner must give a comment not the Ministry of Natural Resources.
"This being a private farm, the said Mandla Mkhaliphi and the Ministry of Defence can give a comment as opposed to our Ministry",said the Natural Resources Minister.
A questionnaire was sent to Prince Sicalo via his WhatsApp number, by 2pm on Tuesday, the application was indicating that he was typing a message back to this journalist as a response, however at 6pm, he had not sent an official comment on the matter.
But an independent investigation by this publication further uncovered that the deployment of the military into the Farm was never authorised by the Army Commander, the powerful and highly influential Prince allegedly issued the order in the midst of the conflict over the quarry deal that was supplied to Kukhanya Construction.
Evidence in our possession further suggests that on or around October 2016, Kukhanya Construction paid NDI(PTY)LTD E5million and shortly after that payment, Prince Sicalo demanded E4.5million saying it was requested by his father King Mswati however, the other Directors of the company including Mandla Mkhaliphi turned him down saying presenting such a huge amount of money to the King would result to the collapse of the company that was servicing a loan of E12million with Inhlonhla.
It has been disclosed through the evidence in our possession that on or around December 2016, a second payment of E4million was deposited into NDI(PTY) LTD's bank account, again Prince Sicalo demanded E3.5million saying the money would be presented to Indlovukazi(Queen) as a gift, he was turned down again by the Directors.
The last attempt was made on or around February 2017 after Kukhanya paid E2million to NDI(PTY) LTD whose Director is the owner of the Farm, Prince Sicalo demanded E1.5million saying the money was requested by his mother Inkhosikati LaMatsebula, his request was rejected for the third time triggering tension with Director Mandla Mkhaliphi.
Documents in our possession suggest that on or around 26th October 2017, subsequent to a series of meetings between the Prince and NDI Directors including Mandla Mkhaliphi where Sicalo indicated that he was not happy that the owner of the Farm was mining natural resources belonging to his family without giving him anything, the powerful Prince wrote a letter to Mandla Mkhaliphi withdrawing his company from the Joint Venture Agreement(JVA).
“It is with regret that we Labuya Lemaswati(PTY) LTD have come to a decision to inform you as a representative for NDI(PTY) LTD that with immediate effect we are voluntarily withdrawing from the Joint Venture Agreement which was entered to and signed on the 23rd May 2012 between NDI(Pty)Ltd duly represented by Mandla A. Mkhaliphi and Labuya Lemaswati duly represented by Simon Magagula”, read the letter in part signed by Liyabuya Lemaswati Chairman Sicalo Dlamini.
Prince Sicalo and Farm owner Mandla Mkhaliphi