The government has rejected claims that it had a hand in the jailing of its critic, Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna.
Chief Ndiweni (54) was on Friday last week sentenced to an effective 18 months in jail. His 23 subjects were ordered each to perform 525 hours of community service.
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Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Ndavaningi Nick Mangwana told the Chronicle that the traditional leader’s incarceration was the rule of law at work. He said:
There is absolutely nothing political about a community leader who goes on to maliciously destroy someone’s property simply because that person has refused to divorce his wife.
The doctrine of the rule of law implies that no institution, including customary and traditional, is above the law, and should be allowed to act outside the ambit of the law.
Chief Felix Ndiweni should not be allowed to abuse fellow citizens like Mr Mbele and his family just because he is a chief.
He is not above the law and there is nothing political about the principle that when you commit the crime, you should do the time.
In South Africa, AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo is in prison as well for abusing his traditional position and this is how the law works.
Chief Ndiweni and his 23 subjects were hauled before the courts after they banished from their village, Fetti Mbele’s wife who was involved in an adulterous relationship with a fellow villager.
Mbele was ordered to send his wife back to his people for a period as per their tradition but refused to do so.
This prompted the chief to instruct his subjects to remove a hedge around Mbele’s homestead, which according to the State, amounted to malicious damage to property.