King Mgolombane Sandile Ngqika led the Gaiga ama Rharhabe Xhosa in the Seventh to Ninth Frontier Wars and died during the Ninth FrontierWar (1878) after being ambushed. Several legends surrounding
the death of King Sandile exist, one of which states that his skull was taken to England as a trophy by Lieutenant Carrington. Historically it is known that King Sandile died of a gunshot wound to the
trunk, and was buried at Izidenge, between two British soldiers. The present king wanted the grave investigated to confirm the identity of the individual buried here, and to establish whether the skull is
present. The grave was excavated and the remains analysed in situ in 2005. Preservation of the remains was generally poor, but a skull and mandible were clearly visible. The skeleton was that of an older male individual of Negroid descent. The feet could not be observed, but the left tibia showed some abnormalities probably indicating weakness of the left leg. Historically it is known that King Sandile had a “withered left leg” and walked with a limp. All aspects of the grave and remains
observed are consistent with known historical facts on King Mgolombane Sandile Ngqika and the manner and circumstance of his death and burial. There were no indications that this was not his grave,
nor that he was beheaded and his skull removed. Several examples of trophy taking by British soldiers during the late nineteenth century exist. Although this was not the case with King Sandile, per se, the
existence of the legend most probably indicates that this kind of atrocity was committed during the Xhosa Frontier Wars.