- The late Bhaca King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko never had a chance to defend himself.
- This statement was made by Diko's brother-in-law, Chief Vulisango Phantswa, at the funeral of the young royal who died on 21 February.
- Diko died with a cloud of corruption allegations hanging over his head after his company had scored a questionable R125-million tender to provide PPE.
- Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane said the Bhaca nation and province at large had lost a community builder.
The late Bhaca King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko was never given the chance to defend himself.
This statement was made by Diko's brother-in-law, Chief Vulisango Phantswa, at the funeral of the young royal who died on 21 February with a dark cloud of corruption allegations hanging over his head.
Diko, 43, found himself in the spotlight after a Sunday newspaper revealed that Royal Bhaca projects, a company owned by Diko, had received a R125-million personal protective equipment (PPE) tender from the Gauteng health department.
The then-health MEC Bandile Masuku has since lost his job over the scandal, while President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson Diko's wife, Khusela Diko, has taken a leave of absence.
It was later revealed that the Dikos and Masukus are close friends.
Phantswa, who is Khusela Diko's cousin, was speaking alongside Khusela's uncle Themba Sangoni, who is the retired Eastern Cape judge president.
The funeral service, held at Elundzini Great Place KwaBhaca on Tuesday, was attended by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
Mabuyane said the Bhaca nation and province at large had lost a community builder.
"He was relatively young, but the big dreams he had for the development of this area and his understanding of complex developmental matters, defied his age."
Speaking in metaphors, Phantswa said Diko's body had been riddled with scars after "the bulldogs and Jack Russells of this world tore him apart" when he was alive.
"They were so insensitive that, even after he had finally rested, they tore him some more. They also tore the widow [Khusela Diko] who needed our support."
Phantswa said Diko was never given a chance to defend himself.
While he did not specify what he was talking about, it seemed clear that he meant the public backlash and media scrutiny Diko was subjected to following the PPE tender fraud allegations.
Phantswa said in Xhosa:
As the Thembu nation, we ask ourselves, whose dish did the king mess with, because it has become clear that there is some kingpin who believes that the resources of this country should be controlled by him.
"Our question is why, when eight wives trespass at a restricted area to pick up firewood, that only one wife gets punished for the crime," continued Phantswa.
Lumko Mtimde, a friend and political advisor to the King Madzikane II said: "It is unreal to stand here and talk about my friend, who, I still grapple to believe he is truly gone. I was introduced to this young man in the 90s... They said because of my community development passion and work, I need to know this young man who was equally passionate and together we can contribute to changing lives KwaBhaca."
Chief Mwelo Nonkonyane, the chairperson of Congress of Traditional Leaders in the Eastern Cape said Diko joined Contralesa and led the establishment of its regional structure in Alfred Nzo.
"He had been loyal and disciplined member who had led the region until his passing on, we were told in shock on the day," said Nonkoyane.
Motshekga told mourners at the funeral that she came to know Diko a few years ago when she was announcing matric results in which Mount Frere district, became the worst performing region in the entire country.
"When I jokingly said AmaBhaca people [from Mount Frere] were sitting on top of rotten eggs, lowering matric results, Diko called me and said we need to meet and see what is it that we can do to change the situation, and that was the beginning of a very productive and great relationship."
Speaker after speaker described Diko as a person who was a traditionalist and someone who promoted his culture.