WHEN A KING GOES TO JAIL
Nothing can save aba Thembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo from going to prison because this is the “will of the ancestors”. Daludumo Mtirara – King Dalindyebo’s uncle, the aba Thembu royal family’s spokesperson and one of the 16 royals who wrote to President Jacob Zuma to have the king’s certificate of recognition withdrawn in 2012 – said the monarch had for a long time angered the ancestors and aba Thembu elders.
He said the royal family welcomed the news that the king would spend Christmas behind bars, and they would be “happy” to visit him in jail.
King Dalindyebo is expected to hand himself over by Wednesday.
“In our belief, Dalindyebo is being punished by the ancestors. This is the wrath of the ancestors.
“He physically assaulted his late father, King Sabata Dalindyebo, while they were in Zambia in exile. He also physically assaulted his late mother, No Moscow. She showed me wounds he inflicted on her with a sjambok,” Mtirara said.
“He verbally insulted the late Transkei ruler Daliwonga Matanzima. The late former president Nelson Mandela was also one of the victims of his verbal abuse. All these people are elders of the aba Thembu nation who are no more today.”
Mtirara said not even the best lawyers in the country could save the king now.
“The lesson we should take from this, including him as king, is to respect people, your family and elders. We must respect our elders all the time.
“The wrath of ancestors is felt when one does not respect elders, like the king has done.”
In October, Dalindyebo’s spokesperson, Nkosi Mfundo Mtirara, said the king would never hand himself over to prison authorities and they would have to bring the army to fetch him from Bumbane Great Place, where he resides.
But on Friday, he sounded more resigned, saying the monarch was preparing himself to serve his sentence, although he was still shocked, “like everybody else”.
“The king is the one who is saying to everybody that we should accept the situation as it is and that we fought a good fight, but now it was time to accept the outcome,” the spokesperson said.
“The king did not say he will not hand himself over, nor did he say he will. All he said was that we must accept this. He said we must allow the law to take its course. He is preparing himself for the situation.
“Our view as aba Thembu is that he must not go anywhere, but he said we must respect the law.”
Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane, chairman of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA in the Eastern Cape, said they have resolved to petition President Jacob Zuma regarding the matter of the aba Thembu king.
“We have accepted the decision of the court. But it is unique that a reigning king is incarcerated. The royal family is meeting tomorrow in Bumbane to put the final touches on the plans to ask the president to intervene. He [Dalindyebo] cannot be treated like any other ordinary criminal. Our main aim is that he be granted clemency or be kept in a house belonging to correctional services.”
Mfundo Mtirara said several meetings will be held over the weekend and early next week at which “the nation will decide what is to happen”.
“Our lawyers are still exploring other legal avenues,” he said, adding that he had never heard of a case laid against the king for assaulting his late parents.
“The king stayed with his father in exile. I don’t know anything about him beating his father. His mother never opened any case against the king to the Great Place or with the police, so I do not understand where those allegations come from,” he said.
The verbal assaults on Matanzima and Mandela were misunderstandings and protocol issues, added the spokesperson.
“The king acknowledged both those mistakes and cows were sent to both the families, while the two elders were still alive, to apologise. Therefore, no wrath of ancestors could be attributed to that.”
Mthatha’s Wellington Prison, surrounded on three sides by a bend in the Mthatha River, is infamous for overcrowding. In 2008, this reporter exposed how 300 awaiting-trial prisoners were made to share a cell built for 15 people. Prisoners slept sitting or squashed up on mattresses on the floor.
Over the years, the prison has seen escapes in which inmates overpowered their wardens and broke free.
Correctional services provincial spokesperson Zama Feni was unable to comment on conditions in the prison, but said: “Wellington Prison is just like any other prison.” King Dalindyebo, he said, would be treated like any other prisoner. “Ours is just to receive him when we get an indication as to when he is coming. We are still waiting for that.
“I have been in discussion with the correctional services commissioner about the matter. It is only on Monday that we would be in a position to give definite answers,” he said.
King Dalindyebo’s last legal option – a bid for leave to appeal his conviction and 12-year sentence to the Constitutional Court – was dismissed on December 2.
In October, his advocate, Jaap Cilliers SC, successfully applied at the Mthatha Eastern Cape High Court for his bail to be extended after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) sentenced him to 12 years in prison.
The SCA ruling followed the king’s appeal of his 15year sentence – handed down by Mthatha High Court Judge Sytze Alkema in 2009 – for crimes ranging from culpable homicide, arson and kidnapping, to serious assault and defeating the ends of justice. All crimes were committed on his farm Tyalara in 1995 and 1996.
The SCA, however, acquitted him of culpable homicide and reduced his sentence to 12 years.
In October, when extending his R6 000 bail, Mthatha High Court Judge Lusindiso Pakade ordered the king to hand himself over to Wellington Prison within 14 days should his Constitutional Court bid fail. His freedom expires on Wednesday.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Luxolo Tyali thanked the prosecution team, led by senior state prosecutor Nigel Carpenter, for ensuring that King Dalindyebo will finally go to jail.
“It has been 10 long years that our prosecutors have been working on this case. At one stage, records went missing after the king was convicted.
“But we are happy that the work they put in and their perseverance has paid off,” he said.
AbaThembu monarch Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is expected to hand himself over on Wednesday