Who is Thandisizwe Diko? A look at his life over the years

Controversial chief Thandisizwe Diko has died in the Eastern Cape
Twitter: HRM Kgosi

All some people know about the late Chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko is that he was married to presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko.

The announcement of his death shocked the nation and tributes and messages of condolences have been pouring in since. 

So who is Chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko?

Diko was thrust into the spotlight when he married senior government communicator Khusela Sangoni in a lavish traditional extravaganza over a two-day period in the Eastern Cape. The two called themselves the king and queen of the AmaBhaca nation.

In 24 January 1979 he was born in Elubacweni, KwaBhaca.

In April 2010 he was installed King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko from Elundzini Royal Residence, at the King Madzikane Memorial Park, in terms of custom by Isizwe samaBhaca. His Mother, the Queen is still acting as the Chief of the Tribal Authority.

He had a BSc in law and sociology from the University of Natal (now UKZN) and a Masters degree in Development Communication from the University of Pretoria. At the time of his death he was pursuing LLB at UNISA

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In December 2018, he tied the knot in a two day extravaganza with Khusela Diko. They had a wedding in Mthatha and another one in KwaBhaca [formerly Mount Frere] the following day.

It wasn't long before they were back in the spotlight when some of the lobola cattle were stolen that same month. Diko paid an undisclosed amount for lobola and it included a herd of 24 cattle, which was stolen barely two weeks after the wedding.

Presidential spokeperson Khusela Diko and her husband Thandisizwe Diko
TwitterPHOTO: Twitter/@sithembiso17

The cattle were recovered in January 2019 and the suspects arrested and charged with stock theft. 

In July 2020 he was again thrust into the spotlight when the Eastern Cape government gave clarity on his kingdom. Cogta spokesman Mamkeli Ngam said only seven kingdoms were recognized in the province and AmaBhaca was not one of them. That same month he was embroiled in tender fraud allegations to the tune of R139 million for PPE tenders which were red-flagged. 

When he died in February 2021, the matter was still under investigation. 

Family spokesperson Lumko Mtimde says, to them, there is no confusion about whether Diko was a king or a chief.

No, there is no controversy.  Sections 211 and 212 of the Constitution stipulates that legislation should be promulgated by Parliament in this respect, recognizing traditional leadership. Section 2 (1) of the 2003 Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Act (41 of 2003) provides that a community may be recognized as a traditional community, if it is subject to a system of traditional leadership in terms of that community’s custom and observes a system of customary law. 

“Section 2 (2) says the Premier of a province may recognize a community as a traditional community. Further, Section 9 provides that the Royal Family must identify the person who qualifies to be a King or Queen, through relevant customary structure inform the President, the Premier and Minister of the person to fill the position. In line with Section 2 (1) read with Section 9 of the Act, King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko was installed as a King by ISizwe samaBhaca in 2010.”

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Asked how many children Diko leaves behind, Lumko says it is irrelevant.

“He regards all his and his late siblings children as his, in line with our custom and therefore the number is irrelevant.”

On 26 February there will be a drive through memorial at Elundzini Residence, Komkhulu, Encunteni, KwaBhaca at 12pm. And on 27 February an online memorial service will be held. 

The funeral service will be held on 2 March at 9am at Elunzini Komkhulu.