On Thursday, the Presidency confirmed receipt of a recommendation from Justice Minister, Michael Masutha, to pardon the imprisoned AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.
As reported by eNCA, the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa noted that it would study the thoughts of the justice minister and convey his decision to the king in due time.
Has Cyril Ramaphosa folded to the calls from traditional leaders?
This news comes days after a group of monarchs from the Eastern Cape held a press briefing at Walter Sisulu University and Bumbane Great Place, respectively, with a clear message for the president: Grant Dalindyebo a presidential pardon or forfeit the province on election day.
It appears that, more than anything, these threats have been heeded by the powers that be.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, confirmed that the president would action this request in line with the legal options available to him.
“The president is considering the recommendation as put before him and any other legal options he has in this regard,” Diko said in a statement.
Why is King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo in prison?
Dalindyebo was, in December 2015, convicted to 12 years in prison for assault, kidnapping, arson, and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
This was for his direct involvement in the torching of homes belonging to a group of people who he was apparently disciplining. He was also accused of administering corporal punishment and the kidnapping of a man’s family.
Regarding the latter, Dalindyebo’s reason was that the man had apparently failed to show up to his court when he was summoned.
Will it be remittance or a presidential pardon?
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) had been highly critical of the party’s perceived show of favour towards others, over the monarchs of the Eastern Cape where the party enjoys a stronghold.
“It is a scandal that this government cannot forgive their own but our previous enemies who killed our families are easily pardoned.”Contralesa’s Kgosi Mathupa Mokoena had said at the body’s national executive meeting in March.
Furthermore, according to reports from eNCA reporter, Karyn Maughan suggests that the issue right now is whether to grant the king a pardon or remittance.
The latter would allow Dalindyebo to be released from prison. However, his criminal record would not be removed, thus threatening his ability to reclaim his throne.
A presidential pardon, on the other hand, would wipe out whatever criminal record the king may have accrued in the past and offer him a new life, with no trace of a criminal background.
Presidency blasts rumours of election pressure from monarchs
Diko was very critical about reports that the president is folding to the calls of traditional leaders and that his consideration of Masutha’s recommendation is prompted by his fear of losing voter support in the Eastern Cape.
“It’s really unfortunate there are communities that have thought to use this as an election ploy. In fact, the issue of a presidential pardon being granted to the King is not one that is being fast-tracked, instead it’s one that has been delayed because a request for the granting of the pardon to his Majesty King Dalindyebo would have come from Contralesa [Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa] in 2016,” Diko added.