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Contralesa pinning hopes on President Zuma to pardon King Dalindyebo

The organisation’s EC branch has described the king’s failure to avoid jail as 'sad and unfortunate'.

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo. Picture: xhosaculture.com

CAPE TOWN - After abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo spent his first night in prison, The Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (Contralesa), said it's now pinning all its hopes on President Jacob Zuma and an appeal he's considering to pardon the monarch.

The organisation's Eastern Cape branch has described the king's failure to avoid jail as 'sad and unfortunate'.

The congress's Mwelo Nonkonyana said, "Unfortunately, up until yesterday we didn't receive any response as to how far the president is [in terms of] considering the matter. But we understand that the president will need some time, hence we attempted to approach the court yesterday."

King Dalindyebo handed himself over to the Mthatha Correctional Facility before midnight to start serving a 12-year sentence for crimes against subjects in the 1990s.

Yesterday, an urgent application to have the controversial monarch's bail extended failed in the High Court in Mthatha.

The king's legal team approached the Eastern Cape High Court in a final attempt to have his bail extended, pending a review of Justice Minister Michael Masutha's decision to reject his petition for a retrial.

In her ruling, Judge Nozuku Mjali, who presided over the matter, agreed with Masutha, that the defence had not brought new evidence to warrant the case being re-opened.

Department of Justice Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said, "I can confirm that in compliance with the court order of Mthatha High Court, issued on 23 December 2015, King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo handed himself over to the head of Mthatha Correctional Centre, at 23h40, in the presence of the regional commissioner of the Eastern Cape."

Meanwhile, Contralesa says it can't confirm reports of division within the abaThembu royal family, following King Dalindyebo's imprisonment.

Spokesperson Nonkonyana said, "As an organisation, we haven't as yet been advised whether there is any dispute around that but as far as we're concerned, abaThembu need a king today, not tomorrow."

He says the abaThembu cannot have a king behind bars.

"Once the king either dies or is not in a position to exercise his powers, the royal family must meet; that's the law of this country and they need to decide who is going to rule."

Nkonyana said Contralesa will respect any decision taken by the royal family.

At the same time, the abaThembu Royal Family says a series of meetings will take place next week to decide on a successor to King Dalindyebo.

In a statement, the abaThembu royal family says there's currently no leader presiding over the clan and the affairs of the abaThembu nation.

The first round of meetings will be held with The King Ngangelizwe Royal Family on Monday, at the royal residence in Bumbane.

The statement adds family elders will continue to support the immediate family of King Dalindyebo.

The royal family also states it intends rebuilding relations with the arson, kidnapping and assault victims and their families.

THE KING'S CASE HISTORY

Earlier this month, the Constitutional Court dismissed his application for leave to appeal his conviction for a string of offences dating back to the 1990s.

Before that, the king had approached the Supreme Court of Appeal to have his convictions set aside.

The court overturned his culpable homicide conviction and reduced his sentence from 15 years to 12 years in prison.

King Dalindyebo was then given two weeks to hand himself in to a correctional facility, in accordance to the original judgment in the Mthatha High Court where he was found guilty offences in 2009, which states that he has to hand himself over to authorities within 14 days, should an appeal fail.

FRIENDS AND FOES

In 2013, the abaThembu king announced he had deflected from the African National Congress and was welcomed into the Democratic Alliance.

The party subsequently revoked his membership upon his failed appeal.

Contralesa supported the disgraced king, saying he should not go to jail because of the unstable time during which he committed the crimes against his subjects.

The congress went on to say King Dalindyebo should not be jailed because he was acting under customary law when he committed the crimes he's been convicted of.

Dalindyebo has now exhausted all legal processes available to him.