King Dalindyebo could spend new year behind bars

DECEMBER 30, 2015

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo may spend the new year behind bars.

This follows Justice Minister Michael Masutha's announcement that he had dismissed an application by Dalindyebo to have his case reopened. Masutha made the announcement at a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon.

"I am unable to find anything contained in the aforesaid petition which constitutes further evidence. Therefore I am obliged to dismiss this petition," Masutha told journalists.

Dalindyebo’s lawyer Yasmin Omar petitioned Masutha for the king's trial to be reopened in terms of Section 327 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

At the time, his lawyers said that during Dalindyebo’s trial, one of the two assessors assisting the judge died and was never replaced. They argued that the failure to replace the assessor constituted an injustice and had a bearing on the court's judgment. Dalindyebo also argued that the trial courts ignored customary law.

But Masutha said, in terms of Section 147 of the Criminal Procedures Act, the presiding judge could choose to sit with or without assessors. In terms of Dalindyebo’s customary law argument, Masutha said that would have to be judged by the courts.

"It is my considered view that this point constitutes an argument on a point of law or interpretation of the Constitution which only a competent court, and not myself as executive functionary, is competent to decide on," Masutha added.

This comes after Dalindyebo applied to the Mthatha High Court on Tuesday to have his bail extended pending Masutha's announcement on his petition.

The court was expected to rule on his appliction on Wednesday. 

Dalindyebo was scheduled to present himself to the Mthatha Correctional Centre on December 30. He was granted a reprieve by the Mthatha High Court on December 23, the day he was meant to report to the prison where he would start serving his 12-year sentence.

In 2009, Dalindyebo was sentenced to 15 years in prison for culpable homicide, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, arson, and kidnapping. He was granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

On October 1, the SCA set aside Dalindyebo's culpable homicide conviction, but confirmed the rest of the guilty verdicts. It reduced his sentence to 12 years. He was subsequently granted R6 000 bail pending his appeal to the Constitutional Court. 

The charges all relate to Dalindyebo's mistreatment of his subjects between 1995 and 1996, on a farm he owned near Mthatha.

Dalindyebo set fire to the houses of three tenants to evict them because he believed they had breached tribal rules. He publicly assaulted three young men for crimes they had allegedly committed.

Dalindyebo's subjects beat to death a fourth man, Saziso Wafa, whom they had suspected of having been party to the alleged crimes. They allegedly did this on the king's instructions. The SCA was however not convinced that the king was guilty of culpable homicide.