‘King’ Diko raises ire of AmaBhaca by blocking access road
Nkosi Thandisizwe Diko, who together with his presidential spokesperson wife Khusela Diko is embroiled in a R125m personal protective equipment (PPE) tender scandal, is a “dictator”, according to residents in KwaBhaca.
More than 50 protesters gathered outside Diko’s Elundzini residence in KwaBhaca on Thursday, saying they were tired of “corruption”.
Diko is a chief of the Elujizweni Traditional Council and not a king, as has been suggested previously. Cogta spokesperson Mamkeli Ngam confirmed this.
He is one of three chiefs ruling the community of AmaBhaca.
The local community has been at loggerheads with Diko since last year, when he took a decision to close an access road linking a number of villages to the town.
They say the closure of the road was so that he could expand his residence, and this was done without consulting community leaders.
In 2019, residents of Ncunteni village broke through three gates at the residence to demand that the road be reopened.
On Thursday, community leader Siviwe Myendeki said they had decided to take action after “years of negotiations with the chief” had proved unsuccessful.
“The road is not his property, it is on municipal land. This can be seen on a map of the area,” Myendeki said.
“Thandisizwe is arrogant and a god unto himself. We have tried several times to meet the king to discuss the road closure but we have not succeeded. We have raised the issue with the top leadership of the municipality, which has also failed to act against Thandisizwe.
“Some villagers, some over 70 years old, said they had used this road since childhood but then Diko closed it without speaking to anyone.”
Myendeki was further aggrieved by the controversy of the PPE tender, saying it would not benefit the AmaBhaca community.
“We are against corruption and we do not want the nation to be associated with corruption,” Myendeki said.
Diko referred the Dispatch to Nkosi Mdutywana Sogoni, one of his headmen and chair of his royal family.
Sogoni said Diko was not a dictator but a disciplinarian.
“The king never ruled with an iron fist. The closure of the road was in consultation with the community. He closed the road as it was agreed that he could extend his great place. We have received no complaints of him abusing power. I will not comment on the allegation of corruption,” Sogoni said.
He said this was not the first time people had picketed outside the great place.
Sogoni said there was a pending case against about 30 people who were arrested and charged for malicious damage to property after they uprooted fencing and gates last year.
The case was back in court on September 16, he added.
He maintained that Diko was the king of AmaBhaca although it is not recognised by the government and some traditional leaders.
During Thursday’s protest people waved placards and demanded Diko step down from his position.
Some said they could not be led by a “fraudster” while others said he was a “dictator” whose style of leadership undermined the community.
Last week, Khusela Diko said she “regretted” her husband’s company seeking to do business with the Gauteng health department.
In a joint statement with her husband, she admitted there was public anger over reports that his company, Royal Bhaca Projects, was awarded R125m in tenders for personal protective equipment (PPE).
The couple has maintained they had not earned a cent from allegedly questionable PPE tenders from the department.
Diko has stepped away from her duties as spokesperson amid the controversy.
Thandisizwe is arrogant and a god unto himself. We have tried several times to meet the king to discuss the road closure but we have not succeeded