Ramaphosa still mulling Dalindyebo pardon

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola has defended President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he had not used jailed AbaThembu King Buyel'Ekhaya Dalindyebo's plea for a presidential pardon to garner support ahead of the May 8 polls.

Addressing journalists after officially opening the R56m newly built Bhityi magistrate’s court, 60km outside Mthatha on Friday, Lamola said Ramaphosa was still applying his mind on whether to grant the incarcerated monarch a presidential pardon or not.

Some traditional leaders have accused Ramaphosa of using Dalindyebo’s request for freedom and expunging of his criminal record as a campaigning tool. However, Lamola dismissed this, saying the presidential pardon issue was at a “controversial stage”.

“It is only the president who will pronounce as and when he is ready on the issue. Our department is responsible for advising the president with the presidential pardon or any processes on parole and remission.

Shortly before the May general elections  Ramaphosa was implored to grant Dalindyebo a presidential pardon but the president said he was still applying his mind and would make his decision after the elections.

Four months later, Dalindyebo’s spokesperson Prince Mthunzi Ngonyama, who is one of the leaders of the Release the King campaign, has been scathing in his criticism of Ramaphosa, saying he had misled them on the issue of releasing the king.

Other monarchs, such as AmaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, have defended Ramaphosa, saying he had to follow the law in releasing the king.

Lamola said: “I can assure you that the president has not dumped the matter because the elections have come and gone. It is a pity that I cannot dwell much on the matter. We know the situation faced by the acting king and AbaThembu.”

Among those who attended were Dalindyebo's son and AbaThembu acting King Azenathi Dalindyebo, who was at Lamola's side on the podium. Also present was a faction of the AbaThembu royal family, led by Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara, which wants Dalindyebo removed from the throne and jailed for his crimes.

Earlier, Lamola visited Bumbane Great Place and briefed Azenathi on the presidential pardon matter. Last week there were rumours that Dalindyebo may be released on parole on Thursday.

But correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said: “The department of correctional service is not aware of any pending parole placement of the said inmate. We can also confirm that the regional commissioner never said any such thing.”

Azenathi has called an imbizo for November 8 when he will address the AbaThembu nation on his father’s possible release. Dalindyebo has served four years of his 12-year jail sentence for kidnapping, arson, assault and culpable homicide charges.