King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is serving an effective 12-year prison term. Picture: ALON SKUY
King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is serving an effective 12-year prison term. Picture: ALON SKUY

Justice minister Michael Masutha has formally submitted an application for pardon of jailed AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.

The application has been made to the presidency for President Cyril Ramaphosa to decide on. The presidency confirmed it had received the application.

Dalindyebo is serving an effective 12-year prison term imposed by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in October 2015. The jail time was handed down 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 king set fire to dwellings that housed three complainants — who were his “subjects” and tenants — to secure their eviction when he believed they had breached tribal rules.

The king was also alleged to have publicly assaulted three young men so brutally that, had it not been for later medical intervention, they might very well have died.

The justice ministry said on Thursday that the initial application for Dalindyebo’s pardon was made by the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) in January 2016. The department said the king afterwards made his own application for a pardon.

“In terms of the process, the application was submitted to the department of justice and constitutional development for processing, and to minister Michael Masutha to make a recommendation to the president whether to grant a pardon or not,” ministry spokesperson Max Mpunzana said.

Mpunzana said Masutha sought the advice of external legal counsel on the application by the king, including facilitation of interaction with the victims who expressed their views.

“One of the considerations in a pardon application is the views of the victims of the crime. For that reason, counsel also engaged with the king in respect of facilitating victim/offender engagement in line with our restorative justice approach. The views of the victims were factored in when the minister made his recommendations to the president,” Mpunzana said.

He said there were no specific timelines prescribed in law for Ramaphosa to make his decision. 

In SA, section 84 (2) (j) of the constitution confers on the president the power to pardon or reprieve offenders and remit any fines, penalties or forfeitures.