South African King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who is a nephew of the late Nelson Mandela, on Thursday began a 12-year prison sentence for kidnapping, assault and arson.
Dalindyebo reported to prison after his legal attempts to overturn his conviction failed, BBC reported.
King Dalindyebo was accused of kidnapping a woman and her six children, setting their home on fire and beating up four youths, one of whom died, because one of their relatives had failed to present himself before the king's traditional court.
He handed himself to prison authorities in the eastern city of Mthatha in compliance with a court order after a judge refused to extend his bail on Wednesday, the justice ministry said in a statement.
Earlier, Justice Minister Michael Masutha turned down his request for a retrial, saying there was no legal justification for doing so.
King Dalindyebo has maintained his innocence.
"His behaviour was all the more deplorable because the victims of his reign of terror were the vulnerable rural poor, who were dependent upon him. Our constitution does not countenance such behaviour," the Supreme Court of Appeal said while sentencing him in October.
"We are a constitutional democracy in which everyone is accountable and where the most vulnerable are entitled to protection."
King Dalindyebo defected from the governing African National Congress (ANC) to the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party during his legal battles.