The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to receive Justice Minister Michael Masutha’s recommendation to pardon AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.

Dalindyebo is serving an effective 12-year prison term for three counts of arson, three counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, one count of defeating the ends of justice and one count of kidnapping. The DA has alleged that Ramaphosa’s consideration to pardon the AbaThembu king is an attempt to buy votes in the light of the ANC’s dwindling prospects at the polls.

Contralesa secretary-general, Zolani Mkiva says, “The kings are not necessarily above the law but they cannot be treated like you and me because they are kings to their people. We are all equal before the law and we agree on that. But our constitution also recognises the institution of traditional leadership together with its own nuances. Therefore you cannot expect a king to be equal to his people in that context and therefore we do not believe it was right for the king to be punished in that way and he had to discharge his duties. “

Meanwhile, the Presidency has denied the DA’s allegation that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s consideration to pardon the AbaThembu king is an attempt to buy votes. Presidency spokesperson, Khusela Diko, says President Cyril Ramaphosa will not allow such distortion of information to pressure him on deciding on the parole application by Dalindyebo.

Minister of Justice Michael Masutha had earlier furnished the President with documents, as per his request on whether or not Dalindyebo will be granted a Presidential pardon. Diko says the President will take time and study the documents and make a decision in due course.

“We must hasten to add that this is not the only application that the President is dealing with – it’s very unfortunate that some of us, among us, would have wanted to use this as an electioneering tool, calling the President to make the decision because people won’t vote. That is not what’s going to drive the decision by the President, but rather what is in the public interest and whether indeed it fits in with the requirements of the law.”

Masutha says it’s entirely up to the President to make a decision on the AbaThembu King.

“We have submitted all the information together with the documents needed, attached to the pardon to the President – and at this stage, the honour is really on the President because its up to him in terms of section 24 of the constitution to grant or refuse pardon and that where the matter is at this point in time.”

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