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AbaThembu Royal Council calls for calm amid succession contests

The first of a series of gatherings is expected to take place at the Bumbane Royal Residence near Mvezo today.

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo in 2013. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The abaThembu Royal Council has appealed for calm in the abaThembu nation amid succession contests in the Eastern Cape.

The first of a series of gatherings is expected to take place at the Bumbane Royal Residence near Mvezo today.

The priority on the agenda is to find a viable replacement for controversial royal King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who was sent to prison last week.

The King has spent five nights in an Eastern Cape jail after he was found guilty of a range of crimes, including assault and kidnapping.

The lawyer representing embattled monarch King Dalindyebo yesterday rejected reports a successor has already been chosen after the king's imprisonment last week.

Lawyer Zehir Omar said discussions of who will take over the kingship are ongoing.

"There's discussions to have someone take the reign of the King in his absence."

Dalindyebo is serving a 12-year prison sentence for crimes against his subjects in the 1990s.

Four groups are vying to take the abaThembu throne.

The first royal meeting is expected to be held with the King Ngangelizwe royal family today, before the abaThembu nation will sit a final meeting later this week.

After King 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."