IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has paid a moving tribute to his late wife Princess Irene Buthelezi.

Princess Buthelezi died on Monday morning at KwaPhindangene in Emahlabathini, outside Ulundi, after a long illness.

She was 89.

The family have requested privacy. Last year she was hospitalised for a long period, with reports that she suffered from diabetes. Buthelezi’s son Prince Zuzifa Buthelezi‚ says his mother had a big heart and dearly loved his father.

“It’s extremely painful for all of us. It’s even more difficult for my father and we know that my father was on the brink of retiring – they looked forward to enjoy each other’s company. My heart goes out to my father for having lost a companion of 67 years.”

The IFP has expressed sadness at the death of the wife of the party’s leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi. IFP spokesperson – Mkhuleko Hlengwa – says the party regarded her as mother.

“The IFP has received these news with a great sense of sadness and shock and we want to express our deepest condolences to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the family during this difficult and trying time. We as the IFP mourn our Mother who was a selfless woman of integrity and a woman who had worked tirelessly throughout her life for the betterment of others, and had stood on the side of her husband for over 67 years. And we thank her for her selfless contribution in the IFP and to the people of South Africa.”

KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress (ANC) spokesperson, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, has passed the party’s condolences on to the family of IFP leader.

“As the ANC we woke up to the sad news this morning of the passing of the wife of prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi we do wish to pass our sincere condolences to the family we know that she has been unwell for a few months now no amount of consoling them at this point will make a difference we are aware of that. However, we hope that they will be consoled by the fact that she is now at peace we know that she has played a big role in supporting the prince throughout his long service of the people. We hope the prince will be able to get beyond this matter and be able to be comforted.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal says it will support the Buthelezi family during this difficult time.  DA provincial leader – Zwakele Mncwango praised Princess Irene for supporting the IFP leader’s political career.

“On behalf of the DA I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to Buthelezi family following the passing of the IFP leaders wife Thandekile Buthelezi we would like to be with the family under this difficult time we are saying God will be with them we know the role she had played to really support chief Buthelezi in his years in politics and our country we saying our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time.”

The National Freedom Party  (NFP) has also expressed its sadness at the passing of the wife of Princess Irene.

“We are saddened by the news. The National Freedom Party wishes to pass condolences to the family of Buthelezi and Buthelezi himself regarding what has just transpired. president of the National Freedom Party Zanele Kamagwaza Msibi also passes her condolences to the family and to Umntwana Uphindangene,” says NFP spokesperson, Simo Mkhwanazi.

 

Buthelezi and Irene Thandekile MaMzila Buthelezi got married in 1952 and were blessed with eight children – five daughters and three sons.

In a statement, the family says MaMzila leaves behind her husband of almost 67 years, their children – Prince Ntuthukoyezwe Zuzifa, Princess Phumzile, Princess Sibuyiselwa and grandchildren.

The family says it is devastated by the loss and requested privacy as they are busy with funeral arrangements.