Law to remove a king being modified

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Copy of st secmug file Dalindyebo REUTERS Controversial AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo. Picture: Sumaya Hisham

Johannesburg - The Eastern Cape is busy updating the law on how to remove a king.

AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, based near Mthatha, has been fighting attempts to remove him for two years and is awaiting President Jacob Zuma’s final decision on this.

Earlier this month, the Eastern Cape gazetted the Eastern Cape Traditional Leadership and Governance Bill, which includes sections “to provide for the recognition of kingships/queenships and the withdrawal of the recognition by the president”. It includes a code of conduct for traditional leaders.

The bill states that its intention is to consolidate all provincial legislation on this and align provincial legislation with national legislation. The bill is open for public comment until September 3.

The Eastern Cape’s Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs had not responded by late on Monday to requests for comment on the need for the new law, even though The Star contacted it last week.


Kings or queens may be removed on any of four grounds: if sentenced to more than a year in jail without the option of a fine; if physical incapacity or mental infirmity renders them unable to rule; due to wrongful appointment; or due to transgression of a customary rule or principle sufficient to warrant removal.

The law says the royal family decides on the removal and must then inform the president, the premier and the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs of the decision, with reasons.

“Where it has been decided to remove a king or queen… the president, on the recommendation of the minister, must withdraw the notice of recognition with effect from the date of removal”.

The requirement for the minister’s recommendation was added in an amendment in 2009. There is no reference to any need to ask the about-to-be removed king for comment, as was done with Dalindyebo.

On July 25, Zuma gave Dalindyebo 30 days to “make representations as to why the certificate of recognition as the king of the AbaThembu people should not be withdrawn from him, in line with the request from the AbaThembu Royal Family”.

Dalindyebo’s spokesman said he was opposing the threatened removal.

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