It’s official: King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has resumed his duties as the king of abaThembu after the Eastern Cape government communicated the news to him on Sunday.
Xolile Nqatha, MEC of local government and traditional affairs in the province, visited the king at Nkululekweni in Mthatha to deliver the good news in person.
The MEC also handed the king a brand new white BMW X4 SUV, a petrol card and cellphone as part of his working tools.
Dalindyebo, who was in high spirits, was also given three support staff by the department – they will work in his administration office.
Namhla Siwahla-Dlulane, the director responsible for traditional leadership support coordination in the department, said the MEC went to Nkululekweni to personally deliver a letter signed by Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane which “confirms that king Buyelekhaya has resumed his duties as the king”.
Siwahla-Dlulane said everything government had done was based on the act which governs traditional leadership institutions.
She confirmed that Dalindyebo will also start receiving all his other benefits as soon as possible – including a R1.2 million salary and R10 000 petrol allowance.
This comes after the government last week withdrew its services, including working tools, from former acting king Prince Azenathi, following a dispute.
June was the last month Azenathi was drawing a salary from the state. Last week government took away the white Jeep SUV which had been driven by Azenathi.
The young prince – whose paternity as Dalindyebo’s son is being challenged after the king asked him for a DNA test following a public spat over the kingship – had already challenged the recognition of his father by the provincial government after he submitted court papers at the Mthatha High Court.
“We have consulted with our legal team within the department and at a provincial level and therefore our move to remove, or the premier’s move to remove, the acting king, was based on the law and can be substantiated as such. Therefore our being here in Nkululekweni is based on the law.
“Remember when the king was jailed back in the day his certificate of recognition as king was never withdrawn. So, there was never a process which made him not to be a king.
“So as soon as the king was out of jail he had every reason to occupy his office again, particularly when there is support or the responsible people of the family has determined as such,” said Siwahla-Dlulane.
She said she was not aware of any court challenge against government’s decision to officially confirm the resumption of Dalindyebo’s duties and would have to consult with the legal services department before she could comment on that particular aspect.
“But we are here because we are implementing the law and we are delivering the support to the king as informed by the various pieces of legislation governing traditional leadership institutions,” she said.
Dalindyebo, who looked overjoyed by the latest developments, could be seen exchanging pleasantries with leadership of the provincial government, led by Nqatha.
Senior traditional abaThembu leaders were also present to witness the historic occasion – including Mvezo chief Mandla Mandela, grandson of late of former president Nelson Mandela.
Other chiefs present included Nkosi Mabalengwe Mtirara, Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara and the king’s younger brother, Prince Mankunku.
Dalindyebo’s spokesperson, Prince Mthunzi Ngonyama, said there was only one last hurdle for the king as he waits for President Cyril Ramaphosa to implement the recommendations of former justice minister Micheal Masutha to grant him a presidential pardon.
“We don’t know where the president’s heart is on this matter and I am bit worried ... but we are grateful for the milestone we have achieved so far,” he said.