Justice and Correctional Services minister Michael Masutha will on Tuesday afternoon announce his decision on a petition by abaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo to reopen the case in which he was found guilty of various crimes and sentenced to 12 years in jail.
Justice department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said in a statement on Tuesday morning that Masutha will announce his decision at 2pm in Pretoria.
Dalindyebo petitioned Masutha to reopen the case in terms of section 327 of the Criminal Procedure Act‚ which allows the minister to refer a case back to the trial court if he is informed that new evidence has become available and he believes the new evidence may reasonably affect the conviction.
Dalindyebo submitted the petition through his lawyers on December 23‚ the day on which he was expected to hand himself over at the prison in Mthatha to start serving his sentence.
The king did not report to the prison pending the result of his petition‚ but Mhaga said on Tuesday that Dalindyebo is still expected to report to prison as per the order of the court when he was convicted.
The Constitutional Court earlier this month dismissed Dalindyebo’s application for leave to appeal to that court after he failed to clear his name in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
Dalindyebo was found guilty in 2009 in the Eastern Cape High Court in Mthatha on three charges of arson‚ three of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm‚ two of defeating the ends of justice‚ one of culpable homicide and one of kidnapping. He was sentenced to an effective 15 years in prison.
On October 1‚ the SCA set aside Dalindyebo’s culpable homicide conviction but confirmed the rest of the guilty verdicts and changed his sentence to an effective 12 years in prison.
The charges all related to mistreatment of Dalindyebo’s subjects in the 1990s on a farm he owned near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
Dalindyebo set fire to the houses of three tenants to evict them because he believed they had breached tribal rules. He also publicly brutally assaulted three young men for allegedly committing crimes.
A fourth man who was suspected of having been party to the alleged crimes was killed by members of the community and the prosecution contended this was on Dalindyebo’s instructions‚ but the SCA was ultimately not convinced that the king was guilty of culpable homicide for the man’s death.