If King Dalindyebo be­haves like a com­moner...

CityPress - - Voices - RICHARDT RA­MASHIA voices@city­press.co.za

Thami ka Plaatjie is renowned for be­ing a se­rial abuser of his other­wise im­pres­sive in­tel­lec­tual arsenal. In his ar­ti­cle “We jail a king at our peril” (City Press, Jan­uary 3 2016), he found him­self shoot­ing at the pil­lars of our con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy.

Des­per­ate to dress up his naked sub­mis­sions, he wrote that “the mat­ter of abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo ex­em­pli­fies a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis that is borne by the un­fin­ished busi­ness of our tran­si­tion since 1994”.

In this re­gard, Ka Plaatjie pre­sup­poses that had we “fin­ished the busi­ness of our tran­si­tion”, we would have agreed to a le­gal sys­tem that recog­nised dif­fer­ent rights and obli­ga­tions for dif­fer­ent classes of peo­ple. Per­haps Ka Plaatjie is suf­fer­ing from some sort of pe­ri­odic in­som­nia that makes him for­get the fact that our strug­gle has al­ways been about the cre­ation of a just so­ci­ety in which all per­sons are equal be­fore the law.

The Free­dom Char­ter, which Ka Plaatjie spent the bet­ter part of his po­lit­i­cal life curs­ing as a sell­out doc­u­ment, clearly states that all shall be equal be­fore the law. This is not a Ro­man-Dutch as­pi­ra­tion Ka Plaatjie would want us to believe – it has al­ways been our peo­ple’s bat­tle cry; equal­ity be­fore the law.

Ka Plaatjie goes fur­ther and places a higher pre­mium on the sub­mis­sion to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court by the now dis­graced Dalindyebo that “the court failed to have re­gard to the fact that the young men it is al­leged I as­saulted were brought to me in my ca­pac­ity as a king and the high­est ju­di­cial au­thor­ity within the king­dom. The of­fend­ers had been ar­rested by the com­mu­nity, for rape, house­break­ing...”

Both Ka Plaatjie and Dalindyebo miss the point. The fact that the men were brought to the king did not jus­tify the sub­se­quent crim­i­nal be­hav­iour by the king. What was ex­pected from the king was jus­tice, noth­ing more.

It is gravely mis­lead­ing for Ka Plaatjie to sug­gest that the be­hav­iour of the king was un­avoid­ably in line with the prac­tice of cus­tom­ary law. From time im­memo­rial, tra­di­tional lead­ers have al­ways had a civil way to re­solve dis­pute with and among their sub­jects. The high­est pun­ish­ment we know of in terms of African cus­toms is ban­ish­ment, not the sick­en­ing crim­i­nal ten­den­cies Dalindyebo re­sorted to.

In Se­pedi, there is a pop­u­lar say­ing that “mogolo ge a roga monyane ore monyane nroge”, which, loosely trans­lated, means that “when some­one of higher or royal au­thor­ity be­gins to con­duct him­self like a com­moner, he in­vites to him­self a com­moner’s treat­ment”.

As the Latin phrase goes, “Fiat justi­tia ruat caelum” – “Let jus­tice be done though the heav­ens fall.” Dalindyebo must serve his sen­tence to the fullest.

Ra­mashia is a public servant in the Lim­popo provin­cial gov­ern­ment

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.