A “compassionless” abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo escaped being convicted of murder “by a hair’s breadth”.
The controversial king has also not served a day of his 15-year prison sentence because the entire record of the criminal case against him has vanished.
City Press can today reveal that Dalindyebo’s appeal against his sentence – in which he is accused of “medieval tyranny” – has ground to a halt because of the missing court record.
In 2009, Dalindyebo was convicted by the Eastern Cape High Court in Mthatha on charges of manslaughter, arson, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, kidnapping and acts to defeat justice.
All of the crimes, committed in Tyalara over a period of eight months in 1995, relate to Dalindyebo’s alleged investigation of crimes which led to his evicting subjects from their homes.
In a damning sentencing judgment, Judge Sytze Alkema, said the “cruel, humiliating and degrading” assaults which Dalindyebo ordered on three victims nearly led to their deaths and was “one of the worst cases of assault which can be perpetrated”.
“The three victims were undressed; their hands tied behind their backs. They were prostrated on the floor. They were assaulted over a period of two hours using sjamboks,” ruled Alkema.
He said that when Dalindyebo got tired of assaulting his victims “he instructed other people to continue with the flogging ‘until they screamed’.”
“On the uncontested medical evidence, the three victims would have died had they not received timeous medical attention.”
The court also found that Saziso Wofa was “brutally assaulted to death, and the accused’s gross misconduct in his acts and behaviour as King of the abaThembu caused such assault and death”.
“I think it is clear from the above that the accused escaped a conviction of murder by a hair’s breadth,” said Alkema.
According to the judgment, Dalindyebo suggested that Wofa’s body be thrown into the Mbashe River and he also instructed Wofa’s
father, Koto, to tell officials that his son had died of natural causes.
“As a last measure, and a chilling, but telling feature pointing to his total lack of compassion, the accused then fined Koto for the alleged misdeeds of Saziso.”
Alkema noted that Dalindyebo’s lawyer criticised the prosecution’s use of phrases such as “tyrant”, “reign of terror”, “despot” and “medieval tyranny” as inappropriate.
But the judge disagreed.
“With respect, I believe the evidence shows that these expressions aptly describe the reign of the accused.
“He reigned with terror and fear and with total disregard to the rule of law.”
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Kholiswa Mdhluli said “the appeal date has not yet been set, pending the compilation of the court record, which disappeared while in the possession of either the Mthatha High Court or the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
Mdhluli added: “Against the odds, including lengthy delays and numerous applications by the king to have the case thrown out of court, the NPA succeeded in ensuring that King Dalindyebo is convicted and sentenced.”
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