Two days after subjects of jailed abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to ask President Jacob Zuma for his presidential pardon, the monarch was back in prison after spending close to two months in hospital.
Dalindyebo was taken to the East London Maximum Correctional Centre after being discharged from Life St Dominic’s Hospital in East London, where he had been receiving treatment for ulcers and depression since mid-January.
The Daily Dispatch on Friday reported that the controversial king had to be carried to his cell after he stopped walking in protest at being returned to prison.
The monarch had “vacated” his prison cell in January when he was admitted to hospital, asking that all his personal belongings be taken to him in hospital, including his bedding and books.
Zama Feni, provincial correctional services spokesperson, confirmed to City Press that the king had been taken back to his cell on Thursday, but refused to discuss any details for security reasons.
The king, who handed himself over to prison officials at the Mthatha Wellington Prison on December 30 to start serving his 12-year sentence, began a hunger strike when he went to jail, causing his ulcers to worsen.
Mthunzi Ngonyama, Dalindyebo’s spokesperson, was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, the presidency referred the matter of the presidential pardon, which was first raised by the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA in the Eastern Cape, to Justice Minister Michael Masutha to consider.
In December, Masutha rejected a final and desperate attempt by the king to have his case sent for retrial.
This was after the Constitutional Court also denied the controversial king a hearing because it felt there was no reasonable prospect for any appeal to succeed.
The king, who is a clan nephew of late former president Nelson Mandela, was convicted of arson, kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm during a violent strike at his Tyalara farm between 1995 and 1996.
While the king sits in jail, members of his family are fighting over who should take over as acting monarch in his absence.
Two camps have emerged, with one supporting his younger brother, Mthandeni Mankunku Dalindyebo, while the other wants his eldest son, Azenathi, a third-year criminology student at Free State University, to take the throne.
The two groups failed to agree last Saturday in a heated meeting, and referred the matter to Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle to set up a commission to determine which of the two groups’ choice was legitimate.
On the eve of his incarceration, Dalindyebo, who had previously appointed Azenathi as regent, threw a spanner in the works by asking that his wife, Nokwanda, act instead.
Nokwanda’s name was rejected by the divided royal family members, which infuriated the king, who then ordered that the Bumbane Great Place be closed.
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