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Mandela was behind campaign to dethrone me — Dalindyebo

Abathembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, right, during a visit to former President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla
HIGH-PROFILE VISIT: Abathembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, right, during a visit to former President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla
Image: SUPPLIED

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has claimed that his uncle, the late Nelson Mandela, had demanded from former president Jacob Zuma he be put behind bars and dethroned from his kingship during the build-up to the ANC’s Polokwane elective conference in 2007.

This was revealed by Dalindyebo on a recent podcast interview with KwaNtu_bpm, where he spoke about his love-hate relationship with Madiba.

In the interview, the AbaThembu king said he and Mandela had been at loggerheads during their first encounter during his visit to Pollsmoor prison in the late 1980s, where a young Dalindyebo refused Mandela’s advice to return to school and instead went into exile to join the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto WeSizwe.

Dalindyebo said he made peace with Mandela before the former head of state’s death in 2013.

“The issue of me going to jail was not started by Zuma, it was efforts by Mandela.

“He [Mandela] tried it during the tenure of Thabo Mbeki but he [Mbeki] refused to partake in it.

“In Zuma’s efforts to mobilise support in a divided ANC, he tried to ally with Mandela who gave him a list of demands; one of those demands was to dethrone me and send me to jail,” Dalindyebo said.

Dalindyebo said this revelation came to him during his visit to Nkandla in January, where he went to make amends with Zuma after a shaky relationship.

In December 2015, the AbaThembu king was incarcerated for  kidnapping, assault and arson, but only served four years.

His last-ditch efforts to avoid jail by petitioning for a presidential pardon from Zuma were dismissed.

He was released in December 2019 after President Cyril Ramaphosa granted a special remission of sentence.

During his time in prison, Dalindyebo said he went on a two-week hunger strike due to the conditions he was forced to live under.

He said he slept naked in his prison cell and refused to wear a prison uniform as he felt these were degrading, until then human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu intervened.

“Sisulu was shocked to see the conditions I lived under,” he said.

“I was placed among the most notorious criminals.

“I protested over wearing a uniform.

“I used to tear apart every overall they gave me.

“Eventually they allowed me to wear my normal clothes,” Dalindyebo said.

In the tell-all interview, Dalindyebo spoke of how he had been sent into exile by his late father and predecessor to the throne, the late King Jongilanga Sabata Dalindyebo, at the age of 13, and recounted how he unknowingly met his siblings for the first time at an airport in Zambia.

However, in recent years the AbaThembu king has rekindled his relationship with his foes, including his son, prince Azenathi Dalindyebo, after a six-year public feud that even went to court.

The AbaThembu king has been a TikTok sensation of late, sharing laughter and inspiration videos, and boasting more than 12,000 followers.

The podcast is anchored by Umhlobo Wenene’s breakfast show trio of Pastor Nozewu, Mafa Bavuma and Mluleki Ntsabo.

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