The African National Congress (ANC) of the Amathole region has called for abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s temporary release to attend the funeral of Xhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, who died earlier in November.
In a statement released on Monday, regional secretary Thembalethu Ntutu called on the Department of Correctional Services to grant Dalindyebo compassionate leave to attend the funeral.
This comes after the ANC’s regional executive committee of the Amathole region met last week to discuss a range of issues including Dalindyebo’s attendance of the funeral.
It is unclear if Dalindyebo, who is serving a 12-year sentence, has applied for the leave.
In 2009, the Eastern Cape High Court sentenced Dalindyebo in effect to 15 years in jail for seven counts of kidnapping, three of assault, three of arson, and one each of defeating the ends of justice, culpable homicide, and defeating the ends of justice.
The Supreme Court of Appeals shaved off three years of his sentence in 2015.
He started serving his sentence in December of that year.
The Correctional Services Act allows for inmates to apply for compassionate leave should a direct relative pass away.
“This provision, however, doesn’t sufficiently and correctly take into cognizance the family structure of black African families and certainly does not in any way cater for high sensitive cultural responsibilities which often need to be performed by people that are not direct descendants however belong to the same bloodline,” Ntutu said.
He added that this provision is “Euro-centric”, raising concerns that such relatives are not considered because of how it is interpreted by the government.
“This may lead to King Buyelekhaya being comprised,” he said.
Ntutu, however, said this call should not be mistaken as a call for Dalindyebo’s unconditional release from prison.
“The ANC respects the rule of law and believes that all convicted prisoners must serve their sentences, not only as punishment but as a method of rehabilitation, preparing them for re-introduction into society.”
Many have joined the call for Dalindyebo’s release and a presidential pardon.
Earlier this year, a report was drawn up by former minister of justice Michael Masthua regarding this presidential pardon and given to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu was one of the most prominent voices, petitioning for the release of King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, through the legislative prerogative granted to the president of the Republic of South Africa.
“Through extensive lobbying and rehabilitative work by the amaXhosa King, majority of the royal houses and members of the traditional councils in South Africa have pledged their unconditional support to pardon King Dalindyebo,” Ntutu said.
He added that Dalindyebo’s fate remains “in limbo” as there has been “no response to the request he made for a presidential pardon”.
“As the ANC in Amathole we are calling for the president to respond to the request which has been with the office of the president for quite some time.
“We believe that President Cyril Ramaphosa should honor the memory of King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu, by giving the King of the abathembu his long awaited response and grant him leave to pay his last respects to the late King of the amaXhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu,” Ntutu said.