‘Take his crown’

Con­victed abaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s ex-wife Nol­untu wants him de­throned but not thrown into jail

CityPress - - News - LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA luba­balo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

She wants him de­throned, but she doesn’t want him to go to jail. Queen Nol­untu Dalindyebo has opened up for the first time about what she de­scribes as a “com­pli­cated” on-off re­la­tion­ship with the con­tro­ver­sial abaThembu king, Buyelekhaya royal fam­ily. To pave the way for a royal wife, they agreed to a di­vorce that was fi­nalised in 2002, she ex­plained.

“I was pre­pared to groom the royal wife and make her feel com­fort­able. Her lobola was to be paid by the abaThembu na­tion, as she be­longed to the en­tire na­tion. But this never ma­te­ri­alised. Even to­day, abaThembu still don’t have an heir,” she said.

“I think he took the whole thing as a joke in­stead of a fun­da­men­tal cus­tom.” In­stead, she said, her hus­band took other com­moner wives. At a meet­ing at the Bum­bane Great Place in Oc­to­ber, the king said the coun­try’s “royal fam­i­lies” ex­pected him to “beg” to marry one of their daugh­ters, which he was not pre­pared to do. The cou­ple soon started to have “dif­fer­ences”.

She moved out of the Bum­bane Great Place in 2002 against the king’s wishes and into a mod­est three­bed­room home she had built about 20km from Mthatha.

“I wanted to have my own place, where I could have peace of mind. I am just fin­ish­ing it [the house], do­ing tiling and other things at the mo­ment,” she said.

But mov­ing out of the Great Place came years af­ter she had as­sumed abaThembu’s high­est of­fice – queen re­gent – in which she acted on be­half of her then hus­band, who had been study­ing at the time.

In 1997, Nol­untu, a qual­i­fied bi­ol­ogy and agri­cul­ture teacher, re­signed from Mil­ton Mbekela Se­nior Se­condary School in Qunu to serve as queen re­gent af­ter be­ing rec­om­mended by a num­ber of the na­tion’s el­ders, in­clud­ing then pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela.

Get­ting the nod from a global icon was “hum­bling”.

“I think Tata had con­fi­dence in me be­cause I was ed­u­cated and pos­sessed lead­er­ship qual­i­ties. I think the na­tion was very sta­ble un­der my stew­ard­ship.

“This is partly be­cause I was a re­gent and act­ing on be­half of my hus­band. I did not want to dis­ap­point him or the peo­ple who had en­trusted me with that re­spon­si­bil­ity,” she said.

Dur­ing her five-year reign, from 1997, she built the king’s six-ron­davel palace, the Bum­bane Great Place.

“When I handed the reins back to my hus­band, he wrote a let­ter to me, say­ing I had man­aged to run the king­dom smoothly and had de­vel­oped a good re­la­tion­ship with the chiefs. He ap­pre­ci­ated my con­tri­bu­tion as queen re­gent at the time,” she said.

Be­sides be­ing queen re­gent, Nol­untu was the found­ing pres­i­dent of Im­bumba Ya­makhosikazi Akomkhulu, an or­gan­i­sa­tion of the wives of kings and chiefs that ad­dresses is­sues fac­ing ru­ral women.

She is also a mem­ber of the Eastern Cape House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers and a pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of the Congress of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers of SA in the Eastern Cape. She is also a busi­ness­woman and in­volved in a com­pany that sup­plies tyres to the taxi in­dus­try.

Although she was re­luc­tant to talk about her hus­band’s rule in the years af­ter she handed back the reins, she ad­mit­ted that there was in­sta­bil­ity in the na­tion, par­tic­u­larly with the king now fac­ing the prospect of 12 years in jail.

She said the royal fam­ily was in tat­ters and at least one com­mu­nity project had been de­railed.

“To­day, things are up­side down in the king­dom. There is no peace and sta­bil­ity – in the fam­ily and the en­tire na­tion. There is no dig­nity, no re­spect and no one is tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is just con­stant fight­ing.”

BIG CHIEF Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo (left) ap­points new Hala chief Zwelo­dumo Sindile Mti­rara

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