Two factions, one nation and lots of confusion – that sums up the right royal rumpus happening inside the Thembu royal family.
By late yesterday, no one seemed to know who would succeed controversial King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who was imprisoned after handing himself over at Mthata’s Wellington Prison just before midnight on Wednesday.
Soon after Mthatha’s Eastern Cape High Court refused to extend his bail, Daludumo Mtirara, spokesperson of the royal family for the kingdom of abaThembu, which opposes King Dalindyebo, released a statement saying a new king had to be chosen by the family and the elders.
But other members of the divided family – including Mfundo Mtirara, King Dalindyebo’s spokesperson, and Nkosi Patekile Holomisa, the deputy minister of labour and president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA – were apparently caught unawares.
“There are two groups: those who support the king and those who have wanted to dethrone him. We were not aware of these meetings,” said Mfundo Mtirara before referring City Press to King Dalindyebo’s younger brother, Prince Siganeko Dalindyebo, for comment.
Speaking on the prince’s behalf, Phandulwazi Mhlontlo said King Dalindyebo’s children had been in a meeting for most of yesterday, deciding what the next step would be.
This meeting, he said, was held after Daludumo Mtirara’s statement that their side of the family would need to decide on the successor to the throne.
This has sown confusion in the royal ranks because King Dalindyebo already anointed his successor as 23-year-old Prince Avenathi.
“They were talking about how the Thembu nation would go forth, as the decision to appoint Avenathi was premature,” said Mhlontlo.
“On Wednesday, the greater Dlomo royal family will meet to finalise the decision of who will succeed the throne. Then the nation will be informed.”
Mhlontlo said he knew nothing about any other meetings planned by the opposing family faction.
But late yesterday, Daludumo Mtirara announced the royal family would hold several meetings next week, including those to be attended by the King Ngangelizwe royal family, the greater Dlomo royal family, and the Thembu nation.
In a statement late yesterday afternoon, Daludumo Mtirara slammed the “external forces” which were “misleading” the Thembu kingdom, saying the royal family held an “urgent” meeting on Friday night to “encourage” the “subordinate royal houses” to attend next week’s meetings.
“We may differ in our thinking during deliberations, but we would like to assure the Thembu nation and the South African public that our tradition and custom will bind us to finding common ground,” he said.
“We discourage any form of divisions during this critical period.”
In a statement on Friday, Daludumo Mtirara issued a stinging rebuke against Prince Siganeko, saying he was a “junior member” of the royal family and he could only invite anyone to meetings once he had cleared it with his seniors, who included King Dalindyebo’s other younger brother, Prince Jongisizwe Mthandeni.
“The royal family for the kingdom of abaThembu would like to warn external elements who … mislead some of the children of [King Dalindyebo’s father], King Sabata Jonguhlanga Dalindyebo,” he fumed, adding the royal family “condemns the misleading conduct of Siganeko Dalindyebo, who acted outside our matured custom. His behaviour is disrespectful and unacceptable.
“The time for confusion and mixing of our custom with western lifestyles is over.”
– Athandiwe Saba