SA chiefs want immunity 'after Grace'

PRETORIA - Traditional leaders say they deserve the same legal immunity as judges and magistrates when they preside over disputes, and they are prepared to go all the way to the Constitutional Court to get it.

Their campaign was sparked by the imprisonment of abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo for kidnapping, assaulting and burning his subjects’ homes.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) is set to take its legal fight with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Parliament, the ministry of Justice and Traditional Affairs and the director of public prosecutions to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Contralesa will appeal against a full bench judgment of the High Court in Cape Town, which turned down its application to interdict Dalindyebo’s dethroning.

It wanted the court to declare that Parliament had failed in its constitutional duty by not passing “legislation dealing with the status and powers of traditional authorities and their jurisdiction over traditional courts”.

But Contralesa has been accused of being more concerned about the disgraced king’s predicament than the plight of its victims.

In court papers, former African National Congress (ANC) MP and Contralesa chairperson in the Eastern Cape Mwelo Nonkonyana said: “The prosecution, conviction and sentence of King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo in the execution of his duties as a traditional leader have caused (a) lot of anxiety, fear, confusion and uncertainty among traditional leaders.

“(They) are now reluctant to execute their functions as they fear that their actions and decisions may expose them to criminal prosecution.”

In 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeal compared Dalindyebo’s reign to “what occurred during the medieval times”. He was convicted in 2009 of kidnapping, arson, defeating the ends of justice and assault for the punishment he meted out to subjects in the ’90s.

“He handed himself in to start his 12-year sentence in December 2015 after his Constitutional Court appeal failed.

The High Court dismissed Contralesa’a application, with costs, in November. This week, Nonkonyana said the congress was preparing an appeal and “we will go all the way to the Constitutional Court”.

He slated Parliament for not listening to traditional leaders, saying Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe had been granted immunity from prosecution on assault charges because there was political will.

“We have been engaging Parliament for donkey’s years and Parliament has not passed the legislation,” said Nonkonyana.

“(The court route) is very expensive but if our own legislators don’t want to listen to us, we had no other choice.”

Contralesa petitioned Justice minister Michael Masutha last year, demanding Dalindyebo’s release. Nonkonyana said the “ministry did not write to us” but there were “contestations within the royal family that are militating against us”.

One of Dalindyebo’s victims, Mbuzeni Makhwenkwana, 55 — whose home was among the three burnt down in 1995 — described Contralesa’s bid as a travesty.

“Contralesa cannot talk about the king’s release when I am yet to be compensated for my home,” he said.

Chief Thanduxolo Mtirara, of the Ngangelizwe royal family, overseeing the kingdom, said they were shocked by Contralesa’s litigation.

“We are not sure where they got that mandate from,” he said. “They should have taken the interest of the entire kingdom into consideration rather than an individual.”

Masutha and Parliament said they would deal with an appeal when it was lodged.

Comments (3)

Stupid S.A chiefs

eliasha - 28 August 2017

These South African Chiefs are not serious. This shows that they condone criminality and they are determined to let the criminal go scot free.

Professor - 29 August 2017

The point that is not being made is, besides Grace being a out of control animal. The media does not make any challenges to the fact that she was their to see her Sons. Now unless I am mistaken. These sons are 2 grown men at 25 and 21 years of age. What do they do? You are telling me the that the President is telling Zimbabweans to work hard and teach their children to get a good education and work hard. But at the same time Bob and Grace's 2 grown men do absolutely nothing. They have no jobs, they have no education and merely are being taken care of by their parents. It is a shame with the President own grown Son's are being taken care of by their mother and father at the ages of 25 and 21 is a disgrace. This is nothing more than 2 young cowards breeded by 2 adult parents that teach them nothing of working for themselves. Even with the wealth they have stolen from Zimbabweans they 2 monkeys do not even have a business to show they are men at least the 25 year old. But they are taken care of be mother and dad and are 2 undercover gay girls as everyone know of their activities. Bob has no credibility and his retarded wife Grace has the brains of a baboon. So we know why their children behavior is like animals uncontrolled. Those 2 worthless idiots will turn out 2 drugs addicts as they are and perish as they should., Nothing but worthless genetics like both parents. Dumb is, as dumb does.

Piankhi - 29 August 2017

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