Return of the King: AbaThembu battle over throne heads to court as royal rift deepens

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King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Foto24, file)


King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo. (Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Foto24, file)

  • Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is not backing down from reclaiming his kingship of the AbaThembu nation, taking the latest legal step against his son, Azenathi.
  • In an affidavit filed in the high court, Dalindyebo indicates that he received communication from Azenathi’s mother seemingly agreeing to a DNA test.
  • Azenathi was installed as acting King when his father was sent to prison for assault, kidnapping, arson and defeating the ends of justice.

The ugly legal battle over who should lead the AbaThembu nation – recently paroled Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo or the 27-year-old son he disowned for sleeping in his palace bedroom – is set for a dramatic hearing in the Mthatha High Court later this month.

In a scathing affidavit filed on Tuesday, Dalindyebo has again questioned the paternity of his son Azenathi, who is challenging Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane’s decision to terminate his stint as acting King.

Azenathi was appointed as acting King for three years, after Dalindyebo was imprisoned for assault, kidnapping, arson and defeating the ends of justice, committed during what the Supreme Court of Appeal termed a “reign of terror” during the 1990s.

“What is particularly encouraging is that his (Azenathi’s) biological mother has kindly agreed to the performance of a DNA test,” Dalindyebo states in his recently filed court papers.

“Her exact words expressed in writing were ‘As for DNA name the place and time’ … It must be presumed that this undertaking will be honoured.”

Dalindyebo is currently facing charges of domestic violence laid against him by Azenathi in the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court, which he says are the result of “unfortunate events” that played out on 13 May – when he sought to return to his place at the Bumbane Great Place but “found that I had been locked out”.

He adds that “despite my best effort (Azenathi) refused to grant me access to the premises”.

During a court hearing for that domestic violence case, Dalindyebo testified he wanted Azenathi out of the palace because “I was actually angry as he was using my own bedroom as his own”.

He added:

One of the reasons and the points that convinced me that indeed this child knows that he is not my biological son is because there is no son who would never respect his father’s bedroom.

Azenathi and the Royal Family of Amadlomo – whose legitimacy Dalindyebo has questioned – wants the high court to interdict Mabuyane from officiating Dalindyebo’s resumption of duties.

Mabuyane last month notified Azenathi that his services as acting King had been terminated and the R55 000 salary he had received from the state on 15 June would be his last.

Azenathi was evicted from his palace and forced to hand over the white Jeep he had been given by the Eastern Cape government and his petrol card and SIM card were both blocked.

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It emerges in court papers that Mabuyane informed Azenathi that his stint as acting King had ended in February this year weeks after Dalindyebo wrote a caustic e-mail to the premier, accusing him and the provincial government of “continuing to support an illegitimate appointment of an illegitimate person backed by an illegitimate royal family to usurp my position as the legitimate and lawful king of the kingdom of AbaThembu”.

“Your bias in the manner you are dealing with this problem is the continued and unlawful payment of Azenathi and your suppression of my right to return to my rightful position notwithstanding the full explanation you were given by the chairperson of the Parole Board regarding my release.”

In court papers, the chairperson of the Royal Family of Amadlomo, Thandisizwe Mtirara – who wants Azenathi to be urgently returned to the throne – says Mabuyane was bullied into removing Azenathi by this letter.

He argues that the young man faces financial ruin as a consequence of the “irrational, procedurally unfair, illegal process” that resulted in his removal.

He also contends that Dalindyebo’s status as a parolee, convicted of serious and violent crimes, disqualifies him from leading the AbaThembu nation.

He stated:

As it is, AbaThembu stand to be the scum of the world with a disgraced criminal still serving a sentence sitting on the throne.

“The process of putting him there is still underway.”

Mtirara does not mince his words when he describes the offences that Dalindyebo stood accused of, just years after he was appointed to lead the AbaThembu nation, and describes them as “a variety of charges for barbaric and serious acts of criminal misconduct which revealed the tyrannical and despotic King he was”.

These criminal acts included setting fire to the houses, crops and livestock of subsistence farmers because they resisted his attempts to have them evicted, or otherwise did not immediately comply with his orders, physically assaulting three young men and kidnapping the wife and children of a subject he considered a dissident.

According to Mtirara, Dalindyebo “also delivered the body of a subject, killed by his supporters, to a bereaved father, ordering the latter not to even consider reporting the truth concerning the circumstances of his death to any authority and then fining the father of the deceased 10 head of cattle because so the King alleged, the son had brought shame to the Kingdom”.

Mtirara says the King treated his subjects like “scum”.

“To date, there is no evidence, tangible or otherwise, that he has changed his ways,” he adds.

Dalindyebo, however, maintains that the charges of which he was convicted stems from his efforts to resolve allegations of criminal activities brought to his attention by the community in 1995.

“It so happened that in the process of dealing with the aforesaid matters, physical force was used against some offenders of the community. Such physical force included what the courts subsequently classified, inter alia, as culpable homicide, arson, kidnapping and assault… I was singled out and criminally charged for various criminal offences.”

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Dalindyebo also points out that several of his victims had, in fact, supported his release on parole. He added that he was still awaiting the outcome of his application for a Presidential pardon from President Cyril Ramaphosa.

According to Dalindyebo, there was no reason that he could resume his duties as King – as there were no parole conditions in place that would stop him from doing his job.

He claims that Azenathi had previously referred to his acting position as King as his “bread” – and suggested that the only reason his disowned son was fighting to retain his position was because he feared losing his salary.



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