• The Eastern Cape Chairperson of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), Inkosi Mwelo Nonkonyane has sent a letter and signed a petition requesting President Jacob Zuma to consider granting the AbaThembu King, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo a presidential pardon.

    The Presidential Spokesperson, Bongani Majola stated that the President has duly forwarded the petition and letter to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services for further processing since it is the department responsible for such applications.

    "Upon completion of all the internal processes, the minister will submit the king's application for pardon to the president for a decision," Majola added.

    King Dalindyebo started serving a 12-year sentence last month after unsuccessfully trying several legal avenues to avoid jail.

    In 2009, he was also sentenced to 15 years in prison for culpable homicide, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, arson, and kidnapping.

    He was granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). In October last year, the SCA set aside his culpable homicide conviction and reduced his sentence to 12 years. His other crimes include an involvement in which he meted out to some of his subjects in 1995 and 1996.

    After fighting tooth and nail to escape imprisonment, Dalindyebo handed himself over at the Mthatha Correctional Centre on 31 December 2015. This was in compliance with a court order issued by the Mthatha High Court on 23 December 2015. Soon after reporting to the prison, the king underwent internal incarceration procedures before being admitted as an inmate. 

    Prior to his deadline to hand himself over, the Eastern Cape High Court dismissed yet another of his applications to have his bail extended.

    The king's lawyer, Yasmin Omar, stated that the judge had not given them reasons for his decision.  

    "No indication was given for when we can expect the reasons for the dismissal of the application and we will continue with the case," said Omar.

    The 51-year-old king thus was readmitted to a private East London hospital for medical treatment on January 17. Eastern Cape Correctional Services Spokesman, Zama Feni said Dalindyebo was rushed to St Dominics Hospital after his condition deteriorated. Dalindyebo was previously hospitalised on January 8 after suffering from dehydration after he allegedly refused to eat prison meals.

    In a statement, Contralesa further said that it would never forgive the African National Congress should anything happen to Dalindyebo.

    Court Ruling on the Case

    Last year in October, the SCA denounced Dalindyebo’s brutal “disciplining of his subjects”‚ describing him as a “tyrannical and despotic king” who “behaved shamefully and abused his position.”

    “The lesson that cannot be emphasised enough is that persons in positions of authority such as Dalindyebo are obliged to act within the limits imposed by the law and that no one is above the law‚” Judges Mahomed Navsa and Elizabeth Baartman wrote in the judgment.

    “The period of imprisonment he is to serve is no more than just deserts for what‚ given his position of authority‚ are after all particularly heinous crimes‚” the judges said.

    Explaining the evidence that led to the trial the SCA said Dalindyebo set fire to the houses‚ crops and livestock of subsistence farmers living within his jurisdiction‚ because they resisted his attempts to have them evicted‚ or otherwise did not immediately comply with his orders.

    Furthermore, three men accused of housebreaking and rape were sjambokked so severely that without medical intervention they may have died. This was after they had already been assaulted by the community. The king only stopped the whipping because he grew tired‚ the trial court was told. A fourth man accused of the same crimes‚ aged 18‚ was beaten to death by members of the community.

    “Imagine the king physically assaulting three young men so severely that even his henchmen could not bear to watch. Imagine the same king kidnapping the wife and children of a subject he considered to be a dissident in order to bend the latter to his will. Consider that the king in question delivered the body of a subject‚ killed by his supporters‚ to a bereaved father‚ ordering the latter not to even consider reporting the truth concerning the circumstances of his death to any authority and then fining the father of the deceased ten head of cattle because‚ so the King alleged‚ the son had brought shame to the Kingdom‚” the judgment stated.

    The three arson charges stemmed from the burning of the homes of some of the king’s subjects as punishment for offences such as failing to fully pay a fine for their sheep grazing in restricted areas.

    The judges therefore rejected Dalindyebo’s assertion that he was a caring and compassionate king who acted in the best interests of his subjects‚ in accordance with customary law.