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South African King gets 12-year jail sentence

South African King gets 12-year jail sentence
October 01
21:27 2015
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Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, a king from Nelson Mandela’s Thembu ethnic group, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for a series of charges including kidnapping, assault and arson.

He was accused of kidnapping a woman and her six children, setting their home on fire and beating up four youths, one of whom died, because one of their relatives had failed to present himself before the kings’s traditional court.

The king has never denied the charges but believed his actions were in line with disciplining his subjects.

The Eastern Cape high court had sentenced him to 15 years for the charges, along with one of culpable homicide, which has since been dropped.

The court was unimpressed with the time it took for this matter to be resolved and blamed Dalindyebo for the delays.

It revealed that he has changed lawyers 11 times, leading to more than 30 postponements, in a bid to avoid prison.

“His behaviour was all the more deplorable because the victims of his reign of terror were the vulnerable rural poor, who were dependent upon him,” the court said in its ruling.

The BBC said the king was no stranger to controversy as he left the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and joined the main opposition Democratic Alliance in July 2013.

Dalinyedbo was said to have publicly insulted President Jacob Zuma but later apologised.

“We are very shocked, he is a senior member of the royal family so there is a big sense of loss and uncertainty,” said Simphiwe Pantshwa, from the abaThembu royal family.

“We do not want this to destabilise the royal house so we will be watching the developments with keen interest.”

The case has caused divisions within the royal family, with some feeling the king was being victimised, while others were adamant that no-one should be above the law, according to a BBC correspondent in South Africa.

Dalindyebo has two days to give up himself, while the seat will be declared vacant and his 23-year-old son is likely to be appointed his successor.

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