Politics, Africa

Jailed for serious charges, S.African king released

King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo imprisoned in 2015 on several counts, including kidnapping, assault and arson

Hassan Isilow   | 23.12.2019
Jailed for serious charges, S.African king released Photo courtesy of Abathembu kingdom Facebook page

JOHANNESBURG

A local South African monarch who had been serving a prison term on several charges, including kidnapping and arson, was released from prison on Monday, his spokesman confirmed. 

Mthunzi Ngonyama told local media that King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo was released in the early morning and is now a free man.

Dalindyebo, a nephew of late South African President Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars in December 2015 after he was convicted by a high court in the Eastern Cape province for kidnapping, assault, arson, and homicide.

The release followed an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week that he would grant special remission to some prisoners and those awaiting parole.

The crimes of the king, who leads the AbaThembu ethnic group, date back some two decades ago when he ordered the kidnapping of a woman and her six children, setting their home on fire, and beating up four young people, one ended up dying, when one of their relatives had failed to appear before a traditional court.

Dalindyebo ascended to the throne in 1989 and has around 700,000 subjects. He is the first monarch to be jailed in post-apartheid South Africa.

His then 23-year-old son Prince Avenathi Dalindyebo replaced him as the acting king.

South Africa has 10 officially recognized kingdoms representing various ethnic groups whose leaders play largely ceremonial roles and settle minor disagreements.

Dalindyebo was a member of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress until he defected from the party in 2003 to join the Democratic Alliance, the country’s main opposition party.

He used to criticize then-President Jacob Zuma, frequently accusing him of corruption. He once proposed his kingdom to leave South Africa.

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