After the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, King Cetshwayo was deposed as king of the Zulu and Zululand was partitioned into 13 sections which were parceled out to various individuals including Cetshwayo and the Scottish trader John Dunn. Chaos erupted and following an audience with Queen Victoria, Cetshwayo was restored to his former position by the British. The power of the royal house had been sapped however, and a civil war broke out in Zululand with Zibebhu, in particular, disputing Prince Dinuzulu’s right of succession to the Zulu throne in 1884.
Dinuzulu first appealed to the British for help in ensuring his succession but eventually obtained Boer help in return for land. A group of Boer farmers from Utrecht and Vryheid, led by General Louis Botha, formed Dinuzulu's Volunteers and, after several clashes with Zibebhu, defeated him on 5 June 1884 at the Battle of Ghost Mountain. In the battle, also known as the Battle of Tshaneni, Zibebhu’s forces were defeated and the slaughter was carried out with such vigour that human bones were still lying on the battlefield 20 years later. No less than six of Zibhebhu’s brothers were killed in the battle although he managed to escape.