‘Suicidal’ prince fakes abduction

The abaThembu royal family is worried that Prince Mthandeni Mankunku Dalindyebo, jailed king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s brother, may be suicidal after he lost the battle to lead his nation to his nephew Azenathi, who is now acting king.

Nkosi Thanduxolo Mtirara, the chair of the royal family for the kingdom of abaThembu and the late Daludumo Mtirara’s brother, said he was worried about Mankunku’s “unstable state of mind”.

Last week, Mankunku sent police on a wild goose chase when he claimed he had been abducted by four men. Police found him unharmed and in good spirits in a relative’s home in KuKhambi near Mthatha a few days later. Mankunku told police that he had faked the kidnapping in an effort to get attention.

In November, Nkosi Daludumo Mtirara, who led Mankunku’s bid to become the acting king, committed suicide a few hours before Azenathi was installed as acting king.

Daludumo was the spokesperson for the royal family at the time, and had been a passionate champion for Mankunku to ascend to the throne.

Thanduxolo described Mankunku as someone who was stressed, desperate, unemployed and did not know where his next meal would come from.

“We are very worried that he might even take his own life ... His condition is not improving. He is a stressed man,” he said.

Hopes dashed

In October, the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims, led by Bagudi Tolo, and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen recommended that Mankunku act as king of the abaThembu instead of Azenathi, which pleased Mankunku.

But his hopes were dashed when Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle, who had the final say on the matter, officially called on Azenathi to act in his incarcerated father’s place.

“That kind of shock could have led to [Mankunku suffering] a heart attack or death. Faking kidnapping is better. He could have hanged and killed himself. He has been badly affected by this mentally,” Thanduxolo said.

Masualle defended his decision to recognise Azenathi at the Grahamstown High Court when Mankunku applied for an interdict against the appointment.

Although the case had not yet been concluded, Azenathi began to receive benefits due to him as the acting king. However, Mankunku had to raise his own funds for lawyers and senior council.

“It is unfair. Azenathi has a salary, a car allowance and is playing king at the University [of the Free State, where he has enrolled for a BA in criminology], while abaThembu are left leaderless,” Thanduxolo said.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said Mankunku had claimed the four kidnappers tied him up and put him in the back of a twin cab bakkie. However, he was able to use his cellphone to communicate with the police while the “abduction” was in progress.

“Police called him on his cellphone and he said he was somewhere around Kokstad in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday night following the abduction in Mthatha. His kidnappers wanted him to withdraw the case in Grahamstown as a condition of his release ... police found him in KuKhambi. He was relaxing. He had not been kidnapped at all and he told police he just wanted some attention,” Fatyela said.

Defended claims

Jongibandla Ngonyama, Azenathi’s chief of staff, said Mankunku and his group had staged the kidnapping so that it would seem that those who supported Azenathi were responsible for abducting Mankunku.

He also defended claims that Azenathi was an absent king because of his studies in Bloemfontein.

“The king does not have to be at the Bumbane Great Place all the time. He has councils and chiefs who [attend to his people’s needs]. He endorses and oversees things. He can go overseas if he wants to. Thanduxolo clearly does not know what he is talking about. We are glad that our acting king is furthering his studies,” Ngonyama said.

Meanwhile, police have opened a case of defeating the ends of justice against Mankunku at the Madeira Police Station in Mthatha.

Fatyela said the police had sent Mankunku’s case file to the director of public prosecutions for a decision.

“Prosecutors could add more charges because the prince really wasted state resources by sending police on a wild goose chase. He really played with us. For instance, on that night [Friday May 19], I had already finished work, but I had to stop what I was doing and help with the search,” Fatyela said.

Mthatha National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said they would look into the matter further once the docket had been submitted.