Khusela and Madzikane ll Thandisizwe Diko on their wedding day in 2018.

Photo: Supplied

Sudden death of Thandisizwe Diko leaves family in shock

The family confirms Thandisizwe Diko’s death and expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support they have received from the public.

Khusela and Madzikane ll Thandisizwe Diko on their wedding day in 2018.

Photo: Supplied

The sudden passing of controversial amaBhaca chief Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko – husband to Cyril Ramaphosa’s now suspended spokesperson, Khusela Diko – following a short illness on Sunday afternoon, 21 February, has left the amaBhaca tribe and his loved ones in shock.


The exact circumstances surrounding his death are yet to be confirmed, however The South African has been reliably informed that Diko was receiving treatment for pancreatitis-related complications at an East London-based private hospital at the time of his death.

The family has confirmed the death and expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of support they have received from the public. They have declined to comment on the cause of death with family spokesperson Lumko Mtimde telling Newsroom Afrika that it is not advisable to do so, but revealing the deceased had gone to the hospital for stomach/abdominal pains.

“ISizwe samaBhaca and the Royal family are still coming to terms with this shocking and painful loss of our beloved father, son and husband, and will make further announcements once the Kingdom has finalised the arrangements for the burial. We are humbled by the outpouring of support and grief since the news of His Majesty’s passing first became known. We thank you for keeping the family and iSizwe samaBhaca in your thoughts and prayers during this time of grief”

KwaBhaca Great Kingdom


Outside of the coverage of Thandisizwe’s lavish royal wedding to Khusela Diko in 2018, as well as the controversial tender awarded to his company – Royal Bhaca Projects – in 2020 by the Gauteng Health Department, very little is known about him, such as where he went to school and what some of his life milestones have been.

The couple was married in a two-day royal wedding in December 2018 beginning first at Qokolweni, Khusela’s home, later moving on to the Elundzini Great Place at Ncutheni village in KwaBhaca Eastern Cape.

Some of those in attendance at the nuptials included then Minister of Public Works now Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi; then Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Obed Bapela and royals AmaMpondo aseNyandeni Queen and Tina Madosini Ndamase.

Thandisizwe Diko said at the time that the Bhaca people were an integral part of building South Africa.


The deceased has claimed, on numerous occasions, to be the king of the amaBhaca people, seated in the Umzimvubu region near Mt Frere.

This has been disputed by those familiar with the tribe and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) who called the statement by Diko “erroneous”.

Despite reports that Diko was in fact an ordinary chief, he continues to be referred to as king, even in the statement confirming his untimely death.


He came under public scrutiny in 2020, when the Sunday Independent, published a damning investigative piece exposing the web of corruption at the Gauteng Health Department over the procurement of personal protective equipment under the leadership of then Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku.

It’s alleged the provincial health department awarded PPE contracts worth R 125 million to Royal Bhaca Projects, owned by Thandisizwe. Inferences were drawn regarding the impact the close friendship between the Masukus and the Dikos played in the awarding of this tender. Following the publication of the article, the tenders were cancelled, and Royal Bhaca Projects never received any of the money.

Masuku was promptly axed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura for “failing to execute his executive functions” whilst Khusela Diko went on a leave of absence following the exposé. Royal Bhaca Projects is being probed by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

The SIU has somewhat vindicated Khusela Diko regarding the scandal, finding no evidence of her meddling in the procurement process for the PPE tenders in the Gauteng Health Department.

The SIU did flag Ramaphosa’s spokesperson for not disclosing her financial interests, resulting in disciplinary processes being instituted against her.

She and Masuku have also been summoned to account before the ANC regarding the matter.