Ex-ANC member calls for release of Thembu king

A GROUP of sympathisers has come together to fight for the release of convicted abaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.

Convenor of the group calling itself the King Dalindyebo Justice Task Team (KDJTT), Votani Majola, said after studying the evidence and the subsequent judgment meted out to Dalindyebo, they believed that political influence had played a role.

Dalindyebo's marathon trial lasted six years. He is out on extended bail after he appealed the sentence.

Dalindyebo was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of culpable homicide, three counts of arson, seven of kidnapping, three of assault, and defeating the ends of justice.

Majola is the former chairperson of the ANC Sandton branch. In 2007 he took the ANC to court in a bid to stop the elective Polokwane Conference. His bid failed and he was later suspended. He now claims to have left the party voluntarily.

Majola said the group had decided to convene the KDJTT to explore all avenues open to Dalindyebo. He disputed claims that the KDJTT was his way of garnering support for his two-month-old political party - the Forum for Independent Candidates (Ffinca).

"Ffinca is not a political party. It is a forum for professionals. The only thing that connects us to politics is our members' wish to improve local government. The only way to get into local government is for them to be voted in," he said.

Majola said the KDJTT was still looking for other stakeholders to join them to make sure that Dalindyebo is freed.

The ANC in the Eastern Cape has allegedly thrown its weight behind the embattled king.

Provincial spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane told the Daily Dispatch that the ANC was mindful of the fact that South Africa was a democratic state based on a constitution and rule of law. He felt that the king's imprisonment was not in the best interests of the abaThembu.

He said Dalindyebo had been exiled like many other cadres, and sending him to jail now was "a double sword".

Qoboshiyane said the ANC was not naive. It realised that the people who took the king to court had genuine reasons for doing so.

Asked if he thinks the king was guilty Majola said: "I cannot comment on that because of processes in court, but our role is to ensure that His Majesty gets justice. At this stage we do not think that has happened."

He said the KDJTT would be launched officially on December 19 at Dalindyebo's Bumbane Royal Palace in Mthatha.