A timeline of the life and times of the controversial abaThembu king. 


King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, the current king of abaThembu, was born in 1964. His praise name is Zwelibanzi. He is the son of Sabata Jonguhlanga Dalindyebo, who had three wives and was born on 25 November 1928 and died in 1986. Sabata Dalindyebo was the 10th paramount chief of the abaThembu and ruled from 30 June 1954 to 1980. He was educated at Clarkebury and Lovedale from 1945, both in the Eastern Cape, and transferred after six months to Healdtown, also on the Eastern Cape.

Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has been the chief of abaThembu since July 1992.

In 2009 he was found guilty of arson, kidnapping, culpable homicide, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and defeating the ends of justice. The king was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but has spent over five years appealing his sentence. This followed a trial which began in November 2004 at the Mthatha High Court.

Talks of removal of the king Timeline

On 23 October 2014 the Mthatha High Court granted AbaThembu King Buyelekakhaya Dalindyebo interim relief preventing President Zuma from dethroning him.

In July 2014, President Jacob Zuma wrote to King Dalindyebo, asking him to give him reasons within 30 days why he should not be stripped of his kingship. This was after a concerned group of abaThembu wrote to the Presidency asking that Dalindyebo be removed due to what they referred to as "unroyal behaviour".

In September 2014 Dalindyebo took Zuma to the Mthatha High Court to seek an urgent interdict barring the president from dethroning him.

Zuma opposed this court application, but gave an undertaking not to continue with the dethroning process while Dalindyebo's matter was being heard in the courts of law.

On 02 September 2014, the Presidency asked for a postponement in the matter between King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo of the Abathembu and President Jacob Zuma. "The State attorney has written to King Dalindyebo's attorneys requesting the postponement of the matter when it comes before court on September 5 because it was not possible for government to complete certain internal processes before the answering affidavits could be filed," the presidency said in a statement.

The Presidency also announced that the president undertook not to act on the request for the withdrawal of the certificate of recognition of the king.

Government respondents were supposed to file their answering affidavits before August 29.

On 21 August 2014, the Mthatha High Court granted King Dalindyebo an urgent hearing date to apply for an interdict against Zuma. Acting Judge Justin Laing granted Abathembu King the date of 5 September 2014 to bring an application interdicting Zuma from following through on his letter threatening to remove him as King of Abathembu.

AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo slammed President Jacob Zuma and the ANC during a meeting of the Thembu nation on 03 August 2014 to discuss his possible removal by the President.

The meeting was called after Zuma wrote to Dalindyebo on 25 July 2014, asking the king to provide him with reasons why he should not be dethroned.

At the meeting, Dalindyebo asked President Jacob Zuma to withdraw the recent letter written to him. He also told the masses the meeting and media that the government can withdraw its benefits from him if it wanted to. His state benefits include a monthly salary of more than R60 000, a state car (Mercedes-Benz) and petrol allowance. He warned that if Zuma did not withdraw the letter he wrote to him by August 11, the abaThembu will destabilise the King Sabatha Dalindyebo municipality in Mthatha. The municipality was named after his father.

According to an article on The New Age the Abathembu King has already been dethroned traditionally. This is according to Deputy Minister of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Obed Bapela.

“The royal family removed the spear from the royal palace. This means in terms of tradition he is removed,” Bapela told The New Age . He said the Abathembu royal family found that Dalindyebo disrespected the sanctity associated with the revered spear.

“The only thing that is keeping him as king was the letter from the president recognising him. But the royal family wants him removed. That is why the president has given him 30 days to respond (so as to) why he should not be removed,” Bapela said.




On 10 July 2013 the AbaThembu hit out at President Jacob Zuma, calling him a liar who doesn't condomise. King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo and his delegation handed in a memorandum at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, listing their grievances over President Zuma's alleged attempts to oust Dalindyebo as king. According to SAPA, the self-confessed dagga-smoking king also mentioned that he is not disturbed by being constantly associated with the illegal smoke. "[Smoking] dagga is a cultural behaviour, I am a Rastafarian by nature," he said.

In the first week of July 2013 he also made three shocking statements:

On 06 July 2013 Dalindyebo said Mandla Mandela was being expelled "from all ranks of duties" over a family feud, which erupted after it was revealed that the grandson had moved the bodies of three of Nelson Mandela's children to his village of Mvezo in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province in 2011.

The following day the 07 July during a meeting of the AbaThembu at his Bumbane Great Place, near Qunu, at the weekend, attended by chiefs and members of the community. The Thembu king launched a scathing attack against President Jacob Zuma, this time calling him a “parasite”, a “Zulu boy from Nkandla”, and a “tribalist” at the helm of a divided ANC.

On the 08 July The Mercury reported that Dalindyebo had joined the Democractic Alliance (DA). He was quoted as saying that this would be a wonderful present to Madiba, "In 2014, we want the Eastern Cape in the hands of the DA, because 2019 is too far,” said Dalindyebo.

His utterings did not sit well with the Royal House, and they distanced themselves from him. According to The Star, Chief Daludumo Mtirara, Dalindyebo's brother, said that the King has been removed as head of the family, and that the royal family was waiting for the government to process documents confirming that.

On 21 October 2009 Dalindyebo was found guilty on charges of violence including arson, kidnapping, culpable homicide and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, as well as defeating the ends of justice. Dalindyebo started his trial with 34 counts levelled against him. He was acquitted on 26 of the counts, and convicted on eight. 

The case was postponed to 30 November 2009 for sentencing, and the king’s bail was extended. He was released on R6000 bail. Dalindyebo’s attorney, Zem Gqabi, indicated they would appeal, and said the trial had not been fair.

Judge Sytze Alkema found that Dalindyebo was guilty of:

Kidnapping a mother and her six children after he had personally set alight their home. The judge said all seven kidnapping counts would be treated as one count;

Culpable homicide, instead of murder, for the death of Saziso Wofa, who was assaulted severely and died as a result. The court found that the murder of Wofa was carried out as an instruction from Dalindyebo;

Assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm after he assaulted Wofa’s associates, Malandela Sontanase, Lunga Pama and Welile Dumo, The four were suspected of committing the crimes of rape, housebreaking and theft, and the king had ordered they be apprehended and beaten by members of the community;

Arson as he burned down the homes of Wayiya Sonteya, Stokwana Sonteya and Mbuzeni Mkhwenkwana.

The charges date back to 1995 and 1996 and relate to incidents in Tyalarha, where the king has a farm and where his Bumbane Great Place is situated. Judge Alkema described Dalindyebo as having been a poor witness and dismissed most of his evidence and versions during the trial as false and as attempts to hide his criminal liability.

The latest on king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo

On October 4 2015, the AbaThembu Royal House nominated King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo's son, Azenathi, to take over the reins should the King be sent to jail.

The King had 14 days since losing his Supreme Court of Appeals case to hand himself over to the police, but has decided to take his case to the highest court country, the Constitutional Court.