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King Dalindyebo hands himself over to Mthatha Correctional Centre

Yesterday, the king’s legal team approached the EC High Court in a final attempt to have his bail extended.

The AbaThembu King, Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo outside Mthatha High Court. Picture: Yanga Pampatha Soji/iWitness

CAPE TOWN - The Justice Department says that AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has officially begun serving his 12-year jail sentence after handing himself over to the Mthatha Correctional facility in the Eastern Cape.

Yesterday, 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 re-trial.

In her ruling the judge presiding over the matter agreed with Masutha, that the defense had not brought new evidence to light to warrant the case being re-opened.

The king was ordered to hand himself over at midnight after being found guilty of numerous crimes dating back to the late 1990s, including arson, kidnapping, and assault and defeating the ends 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."

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

The NPA's Luxolo Tyali said, "The order which was granted by the High court last week, extending his bail to 30 December, comes to effect. This means he must hand himself over to a Correctional Services Centre today; failing which, the warrant that was signed by the judge comes to effect and the police must execute it."

Meanwhile, the Congress for Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has expressed its disappointment at the AbaThembu's King imprisonment.

Contralesa's Mwelo Nonkonyana said, "Of course we're saddened by the decision which effectively means then that His Majesty the King must be incarcerated."

Nonkonyana said the organisation is still hopeful that President Jacob Zuma will pardon Dalindyebo.

"We've made the submission to the president and on our view, we've made a compelling case for the really to pardon His Majesty the King."

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.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (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.