According to EWN President Cyril Ramaphosa is “applying his mind” to the issue of pardoning abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.
Following his meeting with Ramaphosa, acting chief Azenathi Dalindyebo, the son of Buyelekhaya, urged his people to be patient according to News24.
For the rest of this when I refer to Dalindyebo I mean Buyelekhaya.
According to a News24 from 2015 in 2009 Dalindyebo was found guilty of even counts of kidnapping, three of assault, three of arson, and one each of defeating the ends of justice, culpable homicide, and defeating the ends of justice.
In 2015 he managed to get the conviction for culpable homicide set aside. Most reports will leave it at that, but I think it is important to get into what the case was about.
The Mail and Guardian went into the details of his crimes back in 2013.
He had kidnapped the wife and six children of Stokwana Sonteya – burning down their four rondavels, this was in order to force Sonteya to give the king money.
The family were released later that day and told to leave the area.
Dalindyebo then tried to force Sonteya to drop the charge of arson, hence why he got found guilty of defeating the ends of justice.
In 1996, Malandela Sontonase, Lunga Pama and Welile Dumo were assaulted for two hours by the king and his minions. When he got tired of beating them himself, he told his minions to flog the three until the screamed. The three were left unable to walk afterwards.
Pama went mad, Sontonase was peeing blood. The next day was Saziso Wofa’s turn, only Wofa didn’t survive. Dalindyebo told Wofa’s father not to report the death.
Dalindyebo’s defense in this case was not that he didn’t do this, but that his victims were ‘offenders’ and that he as their king had the right to ‘discipline’ them.
Last week EWN reported that the Land Party had threatened to start a nationwide shutdown if Dalindyebo wasn’t released.
“The Land Party is mobilising all the other nations and we’re busy talking to other kings, and I don’t want to name them, but we are busy with other provinces because we want to make sure that if the king is not released, we’ll call for a national shut down,” party president Gcobani Ndzongana said.
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa earlier this month also threw its weight behind the jailed king according to News24.
At the same time as all of this has been going on, the ANC has been pushing the Traditional Courts Bill.
According to The Citizen what this bill does is make traditional mandatory in areas that fall under a tribal chief – eliminating the right to opt out of such a court.
They effectively become courts of law, though the right to appeal to an actual court where you’ve got actual rights has been introduced.
Now this is a particular problem for women because traditional leaders are generally sexist, and the court systems follow suit. Women aren’t allowed to represent themselves for example.
My view of culture is that I’m against it.
To my mind everything good that we chalk up to culture can be easily enjoyed by anybody – so that isn’t really culture. Culture is generally the bad stuff that is masked by things like the art and the fashion and the food.
This can include petty things like taking offense at different versions of good manners. Generally if people behave with concern for each other, they’re good people and varying P’s and Q’s don’t really matter that much if you just strive to be nice.
In Western culture, pushes for family values have generally been pushes for homophobia, sexism and reduced worker’s rights. “Family values” are the values that are bad for your family.
Culture covers the war on human rights. That’s what this traditional courts bill is, people who live in areas “ruled” by these kings don’t get to have the same rights as the rest of us, they have to obey rules that the rest of us don’t, and those kings see nothing wrong with what Dalindyebo did.
They think that being held to the same laws as everyone else in this country is objectionable, they feel that this is their right as kings, and to actually face jail time for torturing, burning and exiling their “subjects” – well that’s just not on.
And this is why I oppose Dalindyebo getting that pardon. Him being in jail gives those other leaders pause, it is a reminder that you cannot burn people out of their homes, engage in kidnapping, beat people to insanity and death and get away with it because you had the right parents.
And that is a good caution for these “traditional leaders” to have.