Tribe suspends secession plans

2010-01-06 18:02
Cape Town - The king of the abaThembu has decided to suspend plans to declare independence and place a large swathe of South Africa under tribal rule, supporters said on Wednesday.

King Dalindyebo, who is appealing a 15-year prison sentence, reached the decision after receiving a letter from President Jacob Zuma, his representative, lawyer Votani Majola, told reporters in Cape Town.

Majola described Zuma's letter as "a response that we welcome" but declined to disclose its contents.

The presidency could not confirm the existence of the letter.

Majola heads the Justice for King Dalindyebo Campaign, which a fortnight ago made public the king's "executive decision to withdraw from the South African government" on Wednesday and set up the state of Thembuland.

Pushing ahead with govt pay demand

It would include all of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape as well as parts of Gauteng and the Free State, in line with the "pre-colonial boundaries" of the tribe's land.

Johannesburg would be part of the new state.

Though this plan was now on hold, the task team driving the campaign would push ahead with a demand that the government pay Dalindyebo R900m and the tribe a further R80bn in compensation for the humiliation caused by the monarch's criminal trial.

He was sentenced in the Eastern Cape High Court in December for a string of crimes including culpable homicide, kidnapping, arson and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Majola said the abaThembu believed the trial was a conspiracy by the ANC to punish the king for not being "docile" in his political views and that plans were underway to replace him with "a puppet king".

"The criminal prosecution is in fact political persecution to overthrow our leader so that a puppet can be installed," he said, flanked by five abaThembu chiefs.

Threat to 2010 SWC

Unless the charges were withdrawn, the compensation paid and a public apology issued by Zuma, the king's supporters would destabilise the 2010 Fifa World Cup in every way possible, Majola warned.

They would also retreat to the mountains in KwaZulu-Natal to confer with their ancestors on declaring a "national day of siege", burn their ANC membership cards and the national flag and scatter the ashes in the Tugela River.

The charges against Dalindyebo stem form violence against his subjects in the Tyhalara area in the early 1990s.

A woman and children were kidnapped, homes burned and youths assaulted, one of whom died.

The campaign claims that the abaThembu is South Africa's largest tribe with more than 10 million members.

Dalindyebo is a former uMkhonto weSizwe operative and as head of the abaThembu, he is former president Nelson Mandela's tribal chief.


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