Johannesburg - AbaThembu Chief Daludumo Mtirara has allegedly killed himself, a royal family member said on Friday morning.
He shot himself in his home in Pretoria, according to the relative, who asked not to be named.
Police could not confirm Mtirara's death. The source said some members of the royal family still had to be informed.
Mtirara was vehemently opposed to Prince Azenathi Dalindyebo succeeding his jailed father, King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.
Mtirara was spokesperson of that faction of the royal family opposed to Dalindyebo. They did not like the fact that Dalindyebo was critical of President Jacob Zuma.
Mtirara and other dissenting members of the royal family wanted Dalindyebo’s younger brother, Prince Jongisizwe Dalindyebo, crowned king.
Prince Azenathi’s coronation was expected to take place on Friday.
“Some family members are unaware of the situation. They are still preparing for Azenathi. It’s a shock, but the ceremony will go as planned,” said another unnamed source close to the family.
King Dalindyebo was opposed to his son taking his place. He wanted his wife, Queen Nokwanda, to act on his behalf while he was serving his sentence.
City Press reported that Prince Azenathi is involved in a dispute in the Mthatha High Court with his imprisoned father and Queen Nokwanda, to be allowed to live in the king’s palace, the Bumbane Great Place.
Azenathi got married two weeks ago.
King still in jail
King Dalindyebo is serving a 12-year jail sentence for kidnapping, arson, assault, and defeating the ends of justice.
On December 15 last year, the Constitutional Court dismissed his appeal against his 12-year jail sentence.
In 2009, Dalindyebo was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for culpable homicide, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, arson, and kidnapping. He was granted bail pending the outcome of his appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
On October 1 last year, the SCA set aside Dalindyebo's culpable homicide conviction, but confirmed the rest of the guilty verdicts and reduced his sentence to in effect 12 years. He was granted R6 000 bail pending his appeal to the Constitutional Court.
The charges all related to the mistreatment of his subjects between 1995 and 1996 on a farm he owned near Mthatha, Eastern Cape.
Dalindyebo set fire to the houses of three tenants to evict them because he believed they had breached tribal rules. He publicly assaulted three young men for allegedly committing crimes.