Johannesburg - AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is in good spirits despite being admitted to hospital after falling ill due to a hunger strike, EFF leader Julius Malema said on Saturday.
Dalindyebo was admitted to the St Dominic's hospital in East London on Friday night after embarking on a hunger strike since Sunday, Malema said.
"The hunger strike started on Sunday and he said he was waiting for this type of visit. Only now is he going to start eating."
Malema along with members of the EFF executive had met with the king and advised him to start eating again.
"The king has accepted that he will eat," Malema said.
Correctional Services spokesperson Manelisi Wolela confirmed Dalindyebo had been admitted to hospital on Friday but declined to comment on the reason why.
"The nature of sickness of an offender is a private matter and never published," Wolela said.
Malema said although Dalindyebo seemed to be in good spirits, the fact that he was behind bars was humiliating.
"We want to put in record that we have never seen such humiliation... The king is in good spirits but it is really painful to see the ANC government doing what they are doing to this man.
"We are not saying he must not pay...but we are talking about a King here," he said.
Malema called on the ANC to reconsider its decision and said putting Dalindyebo under house arrest may have been a better option.
"If these people are given special treatment before being involved in any issue like this, even when they get arrested, they are royal blood and therefore they have to be treated as such," he said.
Dalindyebo handed himself over at the Mthatha Correctional Centre last Wednesday after unsuccessfully trying several legal avenues to avoid jail.
The following day on December 31 he was moved to the East London Maximum Correctional Centre. The hospital he was admitted in was about 6km from the prison.
Dalindyebo is serving his 12-year sentence.
In 2009, he was 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.
In October last year, the SCA set aside his culpable homicide conviction and reduced his sentence to 12 years.
His crimes involved the treatment he meted out to some of his subjects in 1995 and 1996.