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Now traditional leaders want immunity 'like Grace'

27 August 2017 - 00:01 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE

Traditional leaders say they deserve the same legal immunity as judges and magistrates when they preside over disputes, and they are prepared to go all the way to the Constitutional Court to get it.
Their campaign was sparked by the imprisonment of abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo for kidnapping, assaulting and burning his subjects' homes.
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa is set to take its legal fight with the Speaker of the National Assembly, parliament, the ministers of justice and traditional affairs and the national director of public prosecutions to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Contralesa will appeal against a full-bench judgment of the High Court in Cape Town, which turned down its application to interdict Dalindyebo's dethroning.
It wanted the court to declare that parliament had failed in its constitutional duty by not passing "legislation dealing with the status and powers of traditional authorities and their jurisdiction over traditional courts".The high court dismissed Contralesa's application, with costs, in November. This week Nonkonyana said the congress was preparing an appeal and "we will go all the way to the Constitutional Court".
He slated parliament for not listening to traditional leaders, saying Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe had been granted immunity from prosecution on assault charges because there was political will.
"We have been engaging parliament for donkey's years and parliament has not passed the legislation," said Nonkonyana. "[The court route] is very expensive but if our own legislators don't want to listen to us, we had no other choice."
Contralesa petitioned Justice Minister Michael Masutha last year, demanding Dalindyebo's release. Nonkonyana said the "ministry did write to us" but there were "contestations within the royal family that are militating against us".One of Dalindyebo's victims, Mbuzeni Makhwenkwana, 55 - whose home was among the three burnt down in 1995 - described Contralesa's bid as a travesty.
"Contralesa cannot talk about the king's release when I am yet to be compensated for my home," he said.
Chief Thanduxolo Mtirara, of the Ngangelizwe royal family, overseeing the kingdom, said they were shocked by Contralesa's litigation.
"We are not sure where they got that mandate from," he said. "They should have taken the interests of the entire kingdom into consideration rather than an individual."
Masutha and parliament said they would deal with an appeal when itwas lodged.
Who is King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo?
● Born in 1964, he has been king of the abaThembu, Nelson Mandela’s clan, since 1989.
● In 2005 he was charged with culpable homicide, arson, assault, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice after meting out punishment to subjects in the 1990s. He was convicted in 2009.
● After a series of appeals which ended up in the Constitutional Court, he handed himself over to prison officials to start his 12-year sentence in December 2015.
● He has since been customarily dethroned, and the Presidency has withdrawn his kingship...

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