AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo has been arrested at the Bumbane Great Place, just outside Mthatha, for allegedly going on a rampage and assaulting members of the royal family.
The king was bundled into the back of a police van shortly after allegedly descending on the royal palace with an accomplice at around 3 am on Friday morning.
A video shared on social media showed vandalised TV sets, appliances and other valuable items strewn across the palace lawns – the aftermath of the alleged attack.
One of the victims of the attack was acting king Prince Azenathi Zanelizwe Dalindyebo whose wife has been rushed to hospital for medical treatment, the SABC reported.
Prince Zanothando Dalindyebo, a spokesperson for the royal family, said it was clear that the king had descended on the palace to attack Prince Azenathi.
Speaking to the SABC, the prince said the king was allegedly armed with an axe, machete and a crowbar, and had an accomplice.
Prince Azenathi and other members of the family had to escape the house through windows and hide around the palace, he said.
“It is so unfortunate that we woke up to this situation. At around 2am-3am, the king descended on the palace with an axe, machetes and a crowbar. He broke through a window and gained access into the house.
“He was moving up the stairs and the acting king jumped out through a window for safety while others tried to sneak out the house and find places to hide around the palace.
“It was a disaster because he wreaked havoc at the palace and he was ransacking the acting king’s room, throwing confidential documents around,” said Prince Zanothando.
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana confirmed a 55-year-old man had been arrested in Bumbane, Mthatha, on Friday morning.
A case of malicious damage to property and assault was opened by the acting king at the Bityi Police Station, police said.
“The circumstances surrounding the incident will be investigated and once charged, the suspect will be brought before Bityi Magistrate’s Court on the charges laid against him,” he said.
Just three months ago, King Dalindyebo was freed on parole as he was one of the beneficiaries of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special remission of sentence, which was announced on the Day of Reconciliation last December.
The king had spent four years behind bars after being convicted of assault with grievous bodily harm, kidnapping, arson and defeating the ends of justice.
The king and his son have had a fractured relationship since his conviction. He had wanted his wife to assume power while he was in prison, but AbaThembu leaders opted for his son, and this was rubber-stamped by government.
At the time, City Press reported that the king had locked his royal palace before reporting to prison and instructed that nobody enter. His son went to court to challenge this and the judge led that he could use the palace.
In January, the king chased away a delegation of AbaThembu leaders which was led by his son who came to visit him at his private residence in Nkululekweni, Mthatha, just weeks after his release from the East London Correctional Centre.
“After the recently released king refused to see his son, who is the acting king, the abaThembu nation waits to see if there will be peace or if the bad blood will continue,” the City Press reporter Lubabalo Ngcukana wrote in January.