King Dalindyebo’s Petition Dismissed
PRETORIA – Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has dismissed a petition submitted by lawyers representing the Abathembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2009 for various crimes, to reopen his case in Mthatha High Court. The Minister on Tuesday said he was unable to find anything contained in the aforesaid […]
PRETORIA – Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha has dismissed a petition submitted by lawyers representing the Abathembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2009 for various crimes, to reopen his case in Mthatha High Court.
The Minister on Tuesday said he was unable to find anything contained in the aforesaid petition which constitutes “further evidence which has since become available, which materially affects his conviction.”
“I am therefore obliged to dismiss this petition. I have since communicated my decision to the King’s legal representatives,” said Minister Masutha, briefing media in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The Minister said he received a petition from Dalindyebo’s lawyers last week, in which the King states that the trial court consisted of a judge and two assessors. During the course of the trial, one of the assessors died but the judge proceeded with the trial with one assessor.
He said the petition was based on two grounds, namely that upon the death of one of the assessors during trial, the presiding judge should have made an order after hearing the parties in this regard.
“They argue that failure to do so is an injustice and has a bearing on the conviction of the King,” said the Minister.
The second ground is their argument that the trial court ignored customary law in its dealing with the matter and this amounts to an injustice.
He said the King is of the view that the court was no longer properly constituted and he did not get a fair trial.
“This ground was never raised at any of the courts that have considered the case despite the King being legally represented and having been described by the Supreme Court of Appeal as an ‘’active litigant”.
“The presiding judge has a discretion in situations where an assessor dies to determine how the trial should proceed,” he said.
King Dalindyebo was sentenced to an effective period of 15 years’ imprisonment in 2009, after being convicted on various crimes ranging from culpable homicide, arson, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and kidnapping by the Mthatha High Court – the king was accused of kidnapping a mother and her six children, setting their home alight and beating up four youths, resulting in the death of one. He allegedly did this because one of their relatives had not appeared before the king’s traditional court when he was meant to.
On appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal, his conviction of culpable homicide was set aside and the sentence was reduced to 12 years’ effective imprisonment. His attempt to appeal to the Constitutional Court was unsuccessful.
Upon receipt of the petition, Minister Masutha said he had received a further request from the lawyers representing the King for a meeting with a view to making oral submissions.
“I must indicate that although I am not required to hear oral submissions in terms of the relevant section, as I do not sit as tribunal, I felt it prudent to do so as a matter of courtesy and fairness.
“I met his lawyers earlier today and their oral submissions have been considered in arriving at my decision,” the Minister said.
King Dalindyebo is expected to hand himself to the Head of Mthatha Correctional Centre to serve 12 years imprisonment as per bail conditions.