AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has demanded an apology from cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Fikile Xasa.
Xasa, speaking at a press conference in Mthatha earlier this month, was quoted in the Daily Dispatch saying: “According to law – the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act – if a public office bearer is incarcerated for a period of 12 months without an option of fine, he or she is stripped of his or her status.
“This applies here. So he is no more a king.”
Dalindyebo, who was readmitted to Life St Dominic’s Hospital in East London on Sunday morning, has instructed his legal team to write to Xasa and demand a public apology and a retraction of the statement.
“You stated that our client has been stripped of his authority as the king of the Thembu nation.
“The above statement is unfortunate, inaccurate, misleading. The king has not been stripped of his kingship and remains the king of AbaThembu,” part of the letter reads.
The attorneys said no resolution had been taken by the family regarding Dalindyebo’s removal.
“Similarly your conduct is unlawful and unconstitutional as your statement was uttered in complete disregard of the facts and the law,” the letter reads.
The letter, dated January 8, gave Xasa less than a week to withdraw the statement and make a public apology or the parties would meet in court.
In a strongly-worded response, Xasa’s office denied that he said that Dalindyebo had been stripped of his powers.
“The MEC outlined possible consequences, which may follow when an office bearer is convicted of an offence with a sentence of imprisonment for more than 12 months without an option of a fine.
“The allegations in your letter are derogatory and mischievous and leave much to be desired,” Xasa’s office said.
Reports surfaced yesterday that Dalindyebo was still receiving a state salary of R1.1-million a year.
Cogta said it was doing all it could to make sure the salary was terminated.
Department spokesman Mamnkeli Ngam said: “The salary of King Dalindyebo is receiving the necessary official departmental attention with the view to terminate it. The salary will then be payable to someone who is acting in the king’s capacity.”
Yesterday there was no indication of when Dalindyebo would be discharged from hospital to continue serving his 12-year jail sentence at the East London maximum prison.
Eastern Cape correctional services manager Nkosinathi Breakfast said the king remained under 24-hour guard.
“We are not sure when he is going to be released. We will wait for the doctors treating him for that decision,” Breakfast said.
The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) provincial leadership visited Dalindyebo last week.
Sanco provincial leader Zukile Luyenge said the king told them he would visit his community to address them about many issues, including who should act while he was serving time in jail.
Provincial correctional services spokesman Zama Feni said they did not have any provisions for inmates to visit their homes.