Cape Town - The Thembu royal family is preparing for a worst-case scenario and could replace beleaguered King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo with his 22-year-old son if he is arrested.
Azenathi Dalindyebo would have no choice but to take over the reins, the family says.
The king is not giving up without a fight and has sent a five-page lawyer’s letter to President Jacob Zuma about the “threat” to remove him.
Zuma has given the king 30 days to say why his certificate of recognition should not be revoked.
He said he had received complaints from members of the Thembu. The king was accused of bringing the royal house into disrepute.
Dalindyebo has also been trying to keep out of prison, but has failed to file papers in time with the Supreme Court of Appeal.
He was sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in prison for culpable homicide and other offences.
He spent most of on Thursday travelling between Queenstown and East London, and meeting lawyers.
Mfundo Mtirara, spokesman for the king’s council and Dlomo royal clan, said the developments were taking a toll on the family.
“The family is sad. It’s almost like someone has died… We will have to call a meeting of the Dlomo clan.
“If (the king) doesn’t come back, we don’t have a choice but to get his son to rule. That would be my proposal.”
Mtirara said a family meeting had been called after the king received Zuma’s letter.
“The question is, are they going to follow steps now, because it seems as if they’re in a rush.
“We are surprised, as the royal house, to see the government acting like this.”
The family wondered whether the government had interests in what was a clan matter.
Dalindyebo had been convicted five years ago, “but it’s only now the government is acting”.
It would go to court if the government did not reply by Monday.
Mtirara alleged iNkosi Mandla Mandela had been a member of a delegation who asked Zuma to remove Dalindyebo.
“Actually it’s him who’s connected to the president, he is the link between the government and the group,” said Mtirara.
In the letter to Zuma, Dalindyebo’s attorney, Bhulwana Bangani, said that in the absence of a “valid removal resolution” by the royal family, “the president lacks the statutory powers to invoke section 10(2)” of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act.
“Although the king was convicted of an offence, it is well known that his conviction and sentence are subjects of a pending appeal. This ground cannot arise as a matter of trite law.”
Mandela’s spokesman, Freddy Pilusa, denied Mandla was involved in the feud.
“It’s an issue of the royal family, so he can’t be central. It’s a matter of the great house.”