I'm a victim of injustice: King Dalindyebo

DECEMBER 23, 2015

Hours before Abathembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo was expected to report to an Umthatha prison to start serving his 12-year prison sentence, he penned a petition to the High Court, Justice Minister Michael Masuta and President Jacob Zuma where he claimed to have been a victim of injustice.

Dalindyebo, who was convicted of culpable homicide, kidnapping, three counts of arson, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice, has pleaded for his case to be referred back to the court. The SCA has since set aside the culpable homicide conviction.

In the 19-page affidavit, the King claimed that he was subjected to an unfair trial because the court failed to take into account the customary laws which gave him power and authority to implement action in his community. 

"The courts failed to have regard that the young men it is alleged I assaulted were brought to me by the community in my capacity as King and the highest judicial authority in the Kingdom. The offenders had been arrested by the community, for inter alia, rape, housebreaking and kissing a married woman in front of her paralysed husband," Dalindyebo said.

He said the Transkei Authorities Act and the Black Administration Act permitted him to administer corporal punishment to the offenders.

"From the stance adopted by the courts, it is apparent that the courts refused to recognise the institution of traditional leadership, indigenous law or customary law," he said. 

"I therefore submit that I am a victim of an injustice and ask that the provisions of Sections 327 of Act 51 of 1977 be implemented and that my case be referred back to the Mthatha High Court that convicted me," Dalindyebo said. 

In his petition, he also stated that the court had erred in the manner in which it carried out his trial. Dalindyebo said his trial was heard before a judge and two assessors. One of the assessors, however, died while the trial was still in progress. 

The court had the option to appoint another assessor and restart the trial. The court did not do this and Dalindyebo's trial continued. 

The King said this put him at a disadvantage because two assessors had the power to overrule the judge on a question of fact. In the case that only one assessor oversaw the trial alongside the judge, the judge's decision stood. 

"It is my contention that the Honourable Mr Justice Alkema and the single assessor could not convict and sentence me in the absence of the assessor who passed away," he said.  

Earlier, Justice department spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga, said King Dalindyebo would have to spend his first day behind bars even if Justice Minister Michael Masuta were to receive a petition or an application for a pardon.