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A new village near Bungeni Big tree, Bungeni Village
A new village near Bungeni Big tree, Bungeni Village
Bungeni is located in Limpopo
Bungeni is located in South Africa
Bungeni is located in Africa
 Bungeni shown within Limpopo
Coordinates: 23°12′22″S 30°13′26″E / 23.206°S 30.224°E / -23.206; 30.224Coordinates: 23°12′22″S 30°13′26″E / 23.206°S 30.224°E / -23.206; 30.224
Country South Africa
Province Limpopo
District Vhembe
Municipality Makhado
 • Total 10.94 km2 (4.22 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 10,297
 • Density 940/km2 (2,400/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 99.6%
 • Coloured 0.2%
 • Indian/Asian 0.1%
 • White 0.1%
 • Other 0.1%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Tsonga 90.3%
 • Venda 7.3%
 • Other 2.5%
Postal code (street) n/a
PO box n/a

Bungeni is a large sprawling rural settlement situated at the foothills of the Soutpansberg mountain range in the former Gazankulu homeland, Limpopo Province, South Africa. It lies 35 km east of Makhado, Bungeni is in the Hlanganani district, on the R578 road (South Africa) between Makhado and Giyani. In 1994 and in 2016, administrative control of this western portion of Gazankulu has been sub-divided in half and allocated to two Municipalities, first in 1994 to Makhado Local Municipality and in 2016, to the New Malamulele Municipality in the Vhembe district. As of April 2016, the Western portion, known as 'Bungeni West' by the locals, has been allocated to Makhado local municipality, while the eastern portion, known as 'Bungeni east', has been allocated to the new Malamulele Municipality. The border line between the two municipalities is at Mbogo Hill, a prominent and a beautiful hill with sweeping views over the Soutpansberg Mountains, which is situated 7 km away from Bungeni. Mbogo Hill is known to the locals as eka-Mbogo, franked by Bungeni health centre to the west of the Hill. Mbogo Hill to the east has been allocated to Malamulele, while Bungeni Health Centre to the west has been allocated to Makhado. Mbogo Hill was named after the Venda family, Magoro (Not related to Magoro village in Tiyani), who have occupied the Hill for generations until they were evicted in 1969 during the consolidations of the Homelands between the Tsonga and the Venda nations.

Sub-villages of Bungeni[edit]

Bungeni is a one Super village ruled by Hosi Bungeni, broken down into 21 sub-villages. Hosi Bungeni has jurisdiction over these 21 sub-villages, these sub-villages are run by or presided over by 21 headmen or 'Tinduna'. In total, there are more than 21 sub-villages within Bungeni, each with its own 'Nduna' or headman, they are as follows; (1) Xikhulu (2) Mabodhlongwa (3)Makhoma (4) Xitaci (5) Mtsetweni (6)Xihambanyisi (7) Nwa-Mhandzi (8) Xivambu (9) Nhjakanhjaka A (e-Gembani) (10) Nhjakanhjaka B (eXavunyami) (11) Wayeni (Bellevue) (12) Mahatlani (13) Nghonyama (New Village, established in 2010) (14) WisaGalaza (15) Dumani (Wayeni) (16) Manyunyu (17) Xingowa (18) Tana na Pulani (New Village, established in 2005) (19) Mandela (New Village, established in 2000) (20) Mahatlani new Stands (New Village, established in 2009) (21) Bungeni Big Tree Village (New Village, established in 2012).

All these sub-villages are collectively known as 'eka-Bungeni' and they fall under Bungeni Traditional Authority, headquartered at Bungeni Xikhulu village, known to the locals as e-Tribal. About half of Bungeni Village is still empty land or unoccupied land, at full capacity, Bungeni village will be a home to more than 80 000 people by 2050. According to the 2015 mid-year population statistics, Bungeni has a population of approximately 30,000 people. Hosi Bungeni is a Senior Chief that presides over all the 12 subordinate Headmen and their villages. The authority to dermacates residential stands, Business sites and for any other purposes rest with Chief Bungeni (Mabunda).

Nwaxinyamani village and the headman[edit]

In 1960, the South African Government refused to recognized Hosi Chavani Mukhari as a traditional leader for the people of Chavani, Bokisi, Mbhokota and Riverplaats on the basis that the people of Chavani and their land are too small and therefore they do not qualify for a Traditional Authority of their own. The people of Chavani village and their leader, Hosi Chavani Mukhari, approached Hosi Russel Bungeni for assistance. They ask that Hosi Russel Bungeni give away some of his people and his land to the people of Chavani so that Hosi Chavani may be recognized by the South African Government as a Senior traditional leader. Hosi Russel Bungeni agreed to help Hosi Chavani, he gave away Nwaxinyamani village to Hosi Chavani, with strict conditions, that Nwaxinyamani village must be returned back to Hosi Russel Bungeni after Hosi Chavani has been recognized by the Government as a Senior Chief. After the transfer of Nwaxinyamani village into Hosi Chavani's land, Nkhensani Tribal Authority became established, in around 1965/66 and the South African Government immediately recognized Hosi Chavani as a Senior Traditional leader for the newly established Nkhensani Tribal Authority, with Nwaxinyamani village as one of Hosi Chavani's land. Thereafter, Tribal Office and a Community Health Centre was built for the people of Chavani by the Government. In around 1968, after Hosi Chavani has been recognized as a Senior Chief by the Government, Nwaxinyamani village has to be returned back to Hosi Russel Bungeni but that agreement was not respected by Hosi Chavani, who continued to ignored the 1960 agreement between Hosi Russel Bungeni and himself, i.e. to hand over Nwaxinyamani village back to Hosi Russel Bungeni. It was not until recently, between 2015-2017 that the new Hosi Bungeni, started to engaged the new Hosi Chavani about the 1960 agreement that was entered into by both chief's grandparents. At the moment, both Hosi Chavani and Hosi Bungeni have finally agreed that Nwaxinyamani village must be returned back to its old Tribal authority. Negotiations are currently under way between Hosi Bungeni and his former headman, Nwaxinyamani, to finally incorporate Nwaxinyamani village back to Bungeni Tribal Authority.

Geography and Geology[edit]

Geologically, Bungeni village is located on the Soutpansberg Ridge, at the 'tail end' of the Soutpansberg mountain range. When the range was formed over a billion years ago as a result of the Kaapvaal Craton, it resulted in the formation of a broken ridge all over the village of Bungeni, which is a geological feature of Bungeni today. This broken ridge at Bungeni village were known as 'Spelenkon ridge' which stretches from Bandelierkop in the west. The name 'Xipilongo' was derived from the railway station situated near Bandelierkop called 'Grootspelenkon'. The village itself is just less than 6 km from Levubu agricultural plantations and 8 km from the Soutpansberg mountain range. The soil type is the same as those on the Soutpansberg mountain range. Rainfall at Bungeni corresponds to the climate of the Soutpansberg mountain range, with maximum temperatures during summer reaching as high as 34 °C. The total elevation of the village is 700 metres above sea level.


Tsonga Trading Posts in the interior[edit]

From the year 1554 when Lourenco Marques, a Portuguese trader settled on the land of the Tsonga, trade between Portugal and Africa began. Between 1554-1800, the Tsonga people started to leave the east coast and begin trade with the interior. They established 'trade routes' that included the whole eastern Transvaal and the northern Transvaal. The Tsonga traded goods with both the Venda and the Pedi between the years 1554-1800 but they did not settled in these areas. Goods traded with the Venda and the Pedi included beads, blankets, pillows, clothes, Maize, guns, soap, body lotion and shoes, which the Tsonga obtained from the trader Lourenco Marques and later after the death of Lourenco Marques, from the Portuguese colonialists. The Tsonga traded these goods in exchange for Ivory and Iron from the Venda. The Venda were skilled locksmith, they traded iron to the Tsonga and the Tsonga sold them maize and introduce Maize to the whole of Venda. Prior to trade between the Tsonga and the Venda, the Venda used to eat sorghum as stample food, but with the arrival of the Tsonga, the Venda ceased to eat sorghum as staple food and started eating maize meal, which the Tsonga introduced to Venda. Both the Tsonga and the Venda named the new staple food Vuswa (Tsonga), Vhuswa (Venda). Maize was introduced to the Tsonga people by Vasco Da Gama in 1497, Vasco Da Gama stayed briefly at the land of the Tsonga before sailing off on his voyage to India, he named the land of the Tsonga "Terra da Boa Gente" (Land of the Friendly people). Vasco Da Gama or the Portuguese have obtained maize from Portuguese Brazil, Maize is indigenous to South America. However, as trade with the interior developed over time, the Tsonga established what is called 'trading station', these stations were developed slowly into small villages. The purpose of the 'trading stations' was to prevent armed robbery since traders were often robbed their goods, so trading stations provided security against robbery since all these stations were guarded 24 hours by armed personnel and their staff. Some of the Tsonga traders never returned to the east coast and were given responsibility of taking care of these trading stations. Some Tsonga traders stayed permanently in the Venda and Pedi villages, never returning to the east coast. For more than 250-years, the Tsonga people had no interest in Colonising the eastern and northern Transvaal, since they treated both the eastern and northern Transvaal as trading areas only. Full scale 'internal colonisation' of both the eastern Transvaal and northern Transvaal only begin from 1820 onwards, this was a period when Soshangane invaded the Tsonga homeland and a mass exodus of Tsonga refugees left the east coast in their thousands into both the eastern and northern Transvaal. This is known as 'forced colonisation' since the Tsonga were forced to vacate their homeland due to war. These new 'colonies' that were invaded by the Tsonga refugees were not new areas, they were known to the Tsonga for more than 250-years. So the Tsonga refugees flocked in their thousands and started the process of 'internal colonisation', which after the period of 80-years (1820-1900), resulted in the 'internal colonisation of the whole eastern and northern Transvaal by the Tsonga respectively. The land where Bungeni village is situated today was one of the ancient 'Tsonga trading station' and was already known to the Tsonga people for centuries before the process of 'internal colonisation' took place in 1820, however, it was not known as Bungeni, it was wholly under the control of Khosi Mashau.

Relationship with the Ramabulana Royal house[edit]

Hosi Bungeni was a very intelligent chief, he had a very good relationship with the Venda rulers of the area, the Ramabulana Royal House. He was one of the trusted leaders of the Venda Royal house under King Makhado, contrary to other Tsonga leaders in the region, Hosi Bungeni did not allow himself to be used for political gain, he did not support Colonialist who were hell bend on using ethnicity to divide the Tsonga and the Venda along ethnic lines. Hosi Bungeni maintained good relations and peace between Vatsonga and Vhavenda in the region and was highly respected by the Ramabulana Royal House. All hell broke loose during the 1960's when Apartheid was introduced, the Tsonga and the Venda were divided along ethnic lines and their lands made islands.


The name 'Bungeni' is the name of the first son of Nkonwana from his second wife. Phalani was Nkonwana's first son from his first wife and was the only boy from his mother. Bungeni Royal village was named after Bungeni. There is the normal practice in most black culture to name the village using the famous/warrior king/chief of the time. And the name will be adopted by the succeeding kings. This is a common practice amongst the Tsonga people, for example, the village of Mbhokota is named after the name of chief Mbhokota. Preferably, they should have used the clan name 'Mavunda'. The village of Bungeni and its Royal Family originated from KwaZulu Natal, see Mabunda. The mabunda's found in Kwazulu-Natal are blood related to those found in Mozambique and are known as the Mazibuko Clan. They were the powerful ruling class in Pre-Colonial Natal. The Mazibuko Clan dominated and ruled villages on the slope of the Drakensberg Mountains in Northern Kwazulu-Natal for centuries. They left Natal in 1700 with their hundreds of followers, headed east and settled on the coastal plains of Mozambique, where they became senior kings/chiefs or rulers. The period of their assistance/presence in Kwazulu-Natal is not clearly documented. The Mavunda rulers were never called as chief 'Ndhuna' instead were referred to as king 'hosi'. Colonialist who wanted to take land from black rulers would use any tactics such as using other blacks to undermine those who were in power. Change their status and give it to their favorites e.g. claiming hosi 'Njhakanjhaka/Mkhari' as the king of the 'Xipilongo' where the Mavundas seek refuge. Among the regiments of 'Soshangaan' there was the remnat of 'Mazibuko/mavunda' group from the larger group who went back to Mozambique. Those are the group of 'hosi Ngove' who are blood related to 'Bungeni' clan. Hence the confusion as to when the 'Mavunda' kingdom arrived in and around Elim, Sherley, Valdazia and Mbokota. These were all the group of 'Soshangaans' whom 'Mkhari' was given headman-ship by 'Bungeni' to look after the splinter 'Shangaan' group from 'Soshangaan' regiment who settled under the kingdom of 'Bungeni' stretching from Bandelierkop, part of Louis-Trichardt, Elim and Valdezia.

There were many reasons why the 'Mazibukos' left or departed KwaZulu-Natal, one of the common reasons is that they had been attacked several times by the Zulu clan to the south, who were in their early stages of forming the Zulu Kingdom by invading or killing other clans. At that time, the Zulu people|Zulus] were not an ethnic group but were a clan, like the Mazibuko clan, who both spoke an ancient dialect of the Nguni language. The Mazibuko Clan were harassed again and again by the Zulu clan until they finally decided to leave KwaZulu-Natal and returned to claimed their original kingdom status for themselves in Southern Mozambique. Upon arrival in coastal Mozambique, they adopted Xitsonga language and culture and changed their clan name from Mazibuko and reclaim their clan 'Mavunda' also known in 'Tsonga' as 'Vahlavi'. However, some retain the Mazibuko surnames, while others preferred 'Mabunda' surname which is assumed to be derived from phonetics during the translation of sound the consonant "V" which is written as 'b". The Mavunda clan ruled southern Mozambique for more than 110 years and were finally scattered from Mozambique by the invading armies of Soshangane between 1820 and 1825.

Therefore, Bungeni village, as it is known today, is of relatively recent. 'Hosi Bungeni' and his subjects arrived here between 1818 and 1820 from Mozambique during the wars of Soshangane, also known as Manukosi and became the Paramount chief of Tsonga refugees in the Spelenkon (Xipilongo in Xitsonga), Hosi Bungeni exercised authority over all Tsonga refugees who were fleeing the brutal formation of the Gaza Kingdom by Soshangane in Southern Mozambique, the natural home of the Tsonga people. As Paramount Chief, Bungeni was responsible for the allocation of land to the Tsonga refugees, the provision of military protection, provision of food, as well as exercising authority over all these refugees.

Upon arrival in Spelenkon as exploror, Chief Bungeni established Bungeni village. Bungeni was a king of Spelenkon, but with the introduction of apartheid during the 1960s, Hosi Bungeni was made a Senior Tsonga Chief and ceased being a kingship, by contrast, Hosi Njhakanjhaka was made a Headman who presided over a small village of Shirley, Waterval township, Lemana, Njhakanhjaka village and Mbokoto village at a place collectively known as Elim. The authority of Hosi Njhakanhjaka was therefore weakened over Bungeni Village during Apartheid. Hosi Njhakanhjaka's paramount Chieftaincy was restored in 1995 and is now recognised as a Tsonga paramount Chief.

Chief Bungeni and his people, while in Mozambique, led a rebellious campaign against Nguni/Soshangaan invaders, who not only oppressed the Tsonga people but also enslave Tsonga woman and children. Chief Bungeni tried to defend his people but was easily defeated by Soshangane and his soldiers. To avoid death and execution by Soshangane, Chief Bungeni and his followers fled and sought settle at a place known today as Bungeni. Another wave of Tsonga migration into Bungeni happened again between 1859-1863 during the civil war between Mzila and Mawewe, the two brothers were fighting for a Kingship after the death of their father Soshangane. The last wave of Tsonga migration into Bungeni was between 1890-1895 during the Portuguese and Nghunghunyane wars. Hosi Njhakanjhaka was the headman of the Tsonga group who were running away from Chaka as a regiment of Soshangaan in the 1850s and were later called 'Shangaan" named after Soshangana from northern Kwazulu-Natal.

Hosi Nhjakanhjaka Mukhari, the headman of Spelenkon (which included Valdezia and Elim), along with Joao Albasini, was a chief of all Vatsonga people in a place known today as Hlanganani. The place where Bungeni is situated today was known as Spelenkon (Xipilongo in Xitsonga) and was one of the most important sites of the Great Spelenkon empire, under the mighty arm of Joao Albasini. Hosi Bungeni was an assistant to Joao Albasini and 'Ndhuna' Nhjakanhjaka, later, Hosi Bungeni was made a Senior traditional leader by the Apartheid government during the 1960s, a position he did not deserve to hold since he supposed to be the king of Spelonkeng. Hosi Nhjakanhjaka Mukhari, was made an 'Independent Headman' and was given a Tribal Office at Waterval township, below Elim Hospital. Bungeni village, along with Nwa-Xinyamani, Chavani, Mbhokota, Bokisi, Lemana, Njhakanhjaka (Elim), Shirley and Valdezia were collectively known as Spelenkon and became home to thousands of Tsonga refugees fleeing the murderous and oppressive Gaza Kingdom under Soshangane, a Zulu General who has conquered the homeland of Vatsonga people in and around Southern Mozambique.

Soshangane oppressed and terrorised the Tsonga people to such an extent that a wave of immigration into the Transvaal took place, thousands of Vatsonga fled their homes (ku Baleka) and settled at Spelenkon. Lengthwise, Bungeni shares a border with Nwa-Xinyamani and Ha-Mashamba (Venda settlement) until Ka-Nkuzana, which is 10 km (6.2 mi) long, across, it shares a border with Ha-Mashau (a Venda settlement) up to Bellevue (Ka-Wayeni), which is also 10 km (6.2 mi) long, making Bungeni one of the biggest Traditional Authorities in the Makhado Local Municipality. In 2019, Bungeni village will be 200 years old.


Bungeni has 5 secondary schools, which are Russel Bungeni High School, Hluvuka High School, Marholeni Secondary School, Bellevue Secondary School and Mahatlani Secondary School. There are 12 primary schools at Bungeni. These are: Nhjakanhjaka Primary, Muhluri Primary, Mkhono Higher Primary, Bungeni Primary, Xitaci Primary, Mtsetweni Primary, Xihambanyisi Primary, Ndlavheya Primary, Nwa-Mhandzi Primary, Wayeni Primary, Mahatlani Primary and Masungi Primary.


Healthcare is extremely poor, there are 2 community clinics, which are Bungeni Health Centre and Wayeni Health Centre, both are attached to Elim Hospital. HIV and Aids have been a leading cause of death amongst young people but with the availability of ARV treatment, the death toll has been reduced substantially. There is a private medical centre at the Diza complex. A number of traditional healers (witch doctors) still ply their craft in the villages.

There are no specific numbers for the claim that HIV/Aids is the major cause of death among young people. Bungeni remains one of the communities with a domination of elderly people, it might be because of the traditional food such as Tihove, Xiendlahivomu, Ximbhundhwa, Xigugu, Xirhidza, etc. and the lifestyle in general.


Bungeni is one of the more developed villages in the Makhado Local Municipality. Amongst the most developed section of Bungeni is Nhjakanhjaka A village, a small suburb called Mandela, and Tana na Pulani that boast houses and mansions that can compete with Makhado Town. The Bungeni Post Office is situated at Bungeni Xikhulu area.

Bungeni, along with other villages situated in the area, is currently experiencing strong economic growth in the property market. A number of major retail hardware stores such as:Njhakanjhaka Build It, Magezi Hardware, P&l and Best Build operate in the area, also supplying building material. This has led to the once rural villages of the area becoming semi-urban areas.

Nhjakanhjaka A has a fully fledged filling station ( Viva Garage),Sasekisa Complex which comprises of Pharmacy, Fresh Loaf Bakery, Shoprite U Save ,Matlebule Eating House,A Lapeni, Gym, Njhakanjhaka Community Hall, Njhakanjhaka Butchery, Vahlavi Cafe. Hair Salons, Motor Spares, Mathonsi Depot, Mihlolo Centre,Brick yards etc, Pep Store and Fish & Chips which opened on 27 October 2014 and a community radio, known as Hlanganani Community Radio.


The village has 12 famous soccer teams, which are; Bungeni Naughty Boys, Bungeni Young Tigers, Bungeni Junior Birds, Bungeni New Born, Bungeni Hellenic, Basani Arrow Chiefs, Njhakanjhaka Mighty Chiefs, Nwa-Mhandzi All Dangerous, Mahatlani All Stars, Milan, Ntsemi Flying Air and Wayeni Sea Robbers.

Notable people[edit]

Well-known people from Bungeni include David Mathebula (mtsetweni) and Lebo Manyama from Njhakanjhaka (Xavunyami), footballers in the South African Professional Soccer League. Jacob Tshisevhe , a former Kaizer Chiefs defender, was born in Njhakanjhaka Village (The Tshisevhe family still resides in the village). Other notable individuals are Falaza Mdaka, who is the Chief Whip of the African National Congress in the Limpopo Legislature; Robert Nkuna(Mahatlani) who is the Director General of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services; Tiyani Rikhotso(Xivambu village) who is a former spokesperson in the Departments of Transport & Communications; Donald Nghonyama ( Wisa galaza), who is the Vice President of the South African Council for Social Services Professions and Deputy Director of the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers (NACCW), his family still resides at Xitachi section in Bungeni. Nghonyama is also the founder of Tlangelani Community Development Agency known as Shitaci Safe Park in Bungeni; Chicco Twala (his parents were born at Mabodlongwa village, the Twala family still reside in the village), Judge George Maluleke, North Gauteng High Court (he was born at Mtsetweni village in 1945); Dr Risimati Dazmen Mavunda, son of Jack, son of Vuromo (Abraham), son of Phalani the sibling of Bungeni. Dazmen was the first black person to qualify in Nuclear Medicine in South Africa. He is now practicing as a chief Physicist at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) and is lecturing at University of Johannesburg, Tshwane University of Technology and Venda University. He obtained his primary education at Rivoningo Primary and his parents' home is still at Ribungwani.

Bungeni Royal lineage and succession[edit]

  • Nkomberi
  • Nkonwani
  • Mkhono (1800?)
  • Sifahla (1880-1969)
  • Russel Bungeni (1910-1986)
  • Surprise Bungeni (1950-2014)
  • 2015–present, vacant

Bungeni family tree[edit]

  • Mazibuko
  • Mabunda


  1. ^ a b c d "Main Place Bungeni". Census 2011.