/ 11 July 2013

My weed-smoking should not surprise you, says AbaThembu king

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo in 2009.
AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo in 2009.

"[Smoking] dagga is a cultural behaviour. I am a Rastafarian by nature," AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo told reporters at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"That [association with dagga] should not surprise you."

The outspoken king said former president Nelson Mandela was "looking good".

He visited the anti-apartheid icon at the Mediclinic Heart hospital in Pretoria on Tuesday.

"The visit was brilliant. Madiba is looking good. He hasn't been talking but I got some good gestures from him. He hasn't been able to smile, I got that little smile from his face which I appreciated very much … It was a blessing to me," he said.

Dalindyebo said "so much was being done to keep Madiba alive".

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The 94-year-old former president was admitted to the hospital on June 8 with a recurring lung infection. On Wednesday, New York University students paid a visit to the hospital.

"His influence and what he stands for has touched all of us," said Curtis Outlaw.

The students are in the country for a month to study education and social reforms. They lit candles near the wall filled with messages and well wishes for Mandela. The anti-apartheid icon was spending his 33rd day in hospital.

Outlaw said he was inspired by Mandela and all he had accomplished.

"I look at him as an inspirational individual. From him I have learned that with perseverance, anything can be accomplished," he said.

Crystal Soto said it was very important for them, as social welfare students, to visit the hospital and see what the country had been saying about Mandela.

"As educators, it is also important to study who he is and what he has accomplished as a person," she said.

The students said it was significant for them to show respect for the sacrifices Mandela had made, to ensure peace and unity in the country. – Sapa