All preparations finalised for King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s ukutshala: Buthelezi

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AmaZulu traditional Prime Minister Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has confirmed that the body of King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu will be interred, referred to as ukutshala in Zulu meaning planting, on Wednesday at midnight. The memorial service will be addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday.

Prince Buthelezi says all preparations have been finalised for ukutshala.  He says the monarch will be planted in accordance with all customs and traditions befitting the King. Buthelezi called on people to protect one another from COVID-19 in this time of grief.

“It will not only be illegal but indeed incorrect to allow a large gathering in this time. It is of course extraordinary to bury a King in this manner, in the absence of thousands of mourners, and I know that there are many subjects of the King who are not happy.  I remember at one meeting, that someone was using the expression COVID-19 or no COVID-19, implying that the grief is such that they will ignore even the protocols of COVID-19.”

Buthelezi says the King was against people breaking COVID-19 protocols. He says he was not allowed to attend the funeral of one of the King’s sons who died recently.

“He actually forbade me because you know that according to scientists, elderly people like myself who also have co-morbidities, being one of them with diabetes,  he said to spare my life I shouldn’t subject myself to infection by coming to the funeral of his own son.”

Prince Buthelezi explains the King’s funeral proceedings: 

Amabutho to form part of the procession 

The royal family says regiments called amabutho will be part of the planting ceremony tomorrow night. The King’s body has been kept at a mortuary in Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

A spokesperson for the King, Prince Thulani Zulu says amabutho will form part of the procession from the mortuary, and other rituals until the body is planted.

“Wherever the King is amabutho will be there and even here amabutho will be carrying the King right up to the palace because they have an important role. In fact, when it comes to the funeral although it is secret, amabutho form part of the funeral of the majesty, everything is performed by amabutho.”

Leaders visit the palace to pay their last respects

Meanwhile, more political leaders have visited the KwaKhethomthandayo palace to pay their respects. African National Congress Secretary-General Ace Magashule has urged the AmaZulu royal family to remain united during this trying time.

“The King wanted a united ANC. The King wanted to see peace and stability in KZN, in South Africa, and in the continent. The King was a development activist; the King wanted us to unite. Our message to the royal family is that if we are united as the royal family, we are stronger, and we would like to pay our last respect.”

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said his party believes traditional leaders are the custodians of the land. Malema said raising the land question,  including communal land held by the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, did not mean they had qualms with the King and the institution of traditional leadership.

“It a huge blow indeed, we had a huge debate with his majesty about the land, and we had very interesting engagement on issues of the land. We have always emphasized in the EFF that the custodians of the land are the Kings and we need to work with them to make sure that we re-distribute the land. It must not only be given to males but must also be given to females – an idea that his majesty cherished and accepted that we have moved from an era where they could be men and women, we have to be one nation.”

Malema says the land debate should continue: 

The president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) Joseph Mathunjwa said the late King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu was always on the side of the workers and the poor. Mathunjwa said the King stood with the workers during the Marikana incident.

“He was very vocal about the exploitation experienced by mine workers in particular. He was saying the workers must be paid according to their labour. But the manner in which they are treated is not fairly. In particular, the migrant labourer that they come and contribute in this country to the economy but the manner things have been happening it was not good.”

The royal family says crowds will not be allowed during the memorial service on Thursday. According to Buthelezi,  authorities will be on standby to prevent any attempts to break COVID-19 regulations.