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South African King Dalindyebo arrested after 'axe rampage'

  • Published at 05:25 pm March 13th, 2020
King Dalindyebo
King Dalindyebo AFP

King Dalindyebo recently spent four years in prison for flogging his subjects and burning their homes in the 1990s

A South African king, a nephew of the late Nelson Mandela, has been arrested after allegedly going on the rampage with an axe in the palace.

Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, freed from jail on parole in December, broke into the Thembu royal palace in the early hours on on Friday, reports BBC.

Witnesses said he was searching for his son, the regent, who was appointed the acting monarch while he was in prison.

The regent escaped through a window, but his wife has been injured and taken to hospital, a royal spokesman said.

King Dalindyebo was sentenced to 12 years in jail for kidnapping, assault and arson, but only served four years after the president granted some prisoners early parole last year.

He was the first monarch to be convicted of a crime in South Africa since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

The 56-year-old comes from the Thembu clan, to which Mandela, South Africa's first black president, belonged.

South Africa has seven officially recognized monarchs representing different ethnic groups and clans.

'People were running for their lives'

Since King Dalindyebo's release from jail, there have been tensions in the Thembu royal family and he has refused to see his son, acting King Azenathi Zanelizwe Dalindyebo.

Last month, the royal household decided that Azenathi should continue on as regent for at least another year, South Africa's City Press paper reported.

Royal spokesman Prince Siganyeko Dalindyebo said the king had broken into the palace - Bumbane Great Place, just outside the town of Mthatha in Eastern Cape Province - at around 03:00 local time (01:00 GMT) on Friday morning.

"He was carrying weapons such as [an] axe, a machete and also a crowbar. He managed to break a window from the sitting room of the main house," he told public broadcaster SABC.

"As he was moving up the stairs looking for the acting king, some people managed to distract him and then the acting king managed to jump out of a window, running for safety."

Other people were also running for their lives, the prince said.

"He has wreaked havoc in the palace… he started ransacking the king's room, all confidential documents - he threw them around."

Video footage shows the troubled monarch later standing outside his palace, calmly smoking a cigarette, and daring the police to arrest him, which they eventually did.

The king was jailed in 2015 after being convicted of assaulting his subjects during a "reign of terror" in the 1990s.

He had kidnapped a woman and her six children, set their home on fire and beaten up four youths, one of whom died, because one of their relatives had failed to present himself before the king's traditional court.

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