King Makhado’s refusal to submit to white rule led to some of his subjects from Malimuwa believing that he was the source of conflict between Vhavenda and the Boers. They, therefore, decided to eliminate him hoping that his death would bring peace between Vhavenda and the Boers. Makhado’s first wife Nwaphunga, together with Rasivhetshele, Liswe, Makhokha, Makhethekhethe, and Mutheiwana planned the assassination of Makhado. According to one of the highly respected Venda historian, Professor MH Nemudzivhadi, the assassination was made easy by the fact that King Makhado had become fond of brandy. King Makhado was given poisoned brandy by Rasivhetshele and Nwaphunga at a party specifically arranged by Nwaphunga. King Makhado died on 3 September 1895. The poisoned that killed him was obtained from Boer farms across the Muhohodi river.

King Makhado’s sons were Alilali (also known as Tshilamulela), Sinthumule, Kutama, and Maemu Malise. King Makhado had earlier informed his counsellors and the elders that he should be succeeded by Maemu Malise, his youngest son. Maemu was the eldest child of Nwaphunga.

After having succeeded in killing Makhado, the council at Malimuwa, led by Rasivhetshele and Nwaphunga, installed Maemu as king. This installation, which was performed at Malimuwa, was contrary to Tshivenda culture which dictates that after the death of a king the nation has to mourn for a year before a new king is installed.

Maemu immediately sent word to Tshwane (Pretoria) subjecting himself and Vhavenda to the white regime. Alilali was in Kimberley when Makhado died. Sinthumule had visited Taylor in Zimbabwe to fetch the cannon that had been promised to Makhado.

But Maemu was opposed by Mahosi such as Mavhasa Musekwa of Tshihanane, Ravele Matsheketsheke of Old Mauluma, Matidze of Luonde, Funyufunyu of Vhulorwa, Madzivhandila of Tshakhuma, Netsianda of Tsianda, Nelwamondo of Lwamondo, Makatu of Tshivhodza, and Raliphaswa. Mavhasa Musekwa, Ravele Matsheketsheke, Raliphaswa and Makhadzi Ndalammbi sent messengers to bring back Alilali and Sinthumule from Kimberley and Zimbabwe respectively. They all agreed that Alilali should be the new king.

Funyufunyu secretly raised an army to attack Maemu. Sinthumule came back from Zimbabwe before Alilali arrived from Kimberley. Sinthumule was advised by Makhadzi Ndalammbi to remain composed until the arrival of Alilali from Kimberley.

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