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Tough choices for AbaThembu royal family if king jailed

Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo faces 12 years in jail for arson, kidnapping & attempts to defeat the ends of justice.

FILE: Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo. Picture: xhosaculture.com

CAPE TOWN - Political analyst and social commentator Somadoda Fikeni believes the AbaThembu royal family will be faced with some tough decisions should King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo fail to have his jail sentence overturned.

On Thursday the Supreme Court of Appeal sentenced Dalindyebo to 12 years imprisonment for arson, kidnapping and attempts to defeat the ends of justice.

He had approached the court to have the 2009 convictions set aside but a full bench of judges upheld them and overturned only that of culpable homicide.

The convictions relate to crimes dating back to the mid-1990s when he ordered the assault of several of his subjects and the torching of their homes.

Fikeni, who's also a heritage expert, says the royals will have to find a replacement.

"Finding a successor at the time when they are aggrieved by the action of the imprisonment of the king might be quite a complicated exercise as they may not have a common approach to this particular problem," says Fikeni.

He says the royals could also leave the position vacant as a protest of the king's imprisonment.

"And then the function will be unfulfilled. Others may say, 'let's find a relative who may act in this period', but all this has to be done in consultation with the king himself."

Dalindyebo has 11 days to hand himself over to authorities but it's understood that his representatives are looking to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.