Hostel dwellers in Durban say they have suspended all activities this week to mourn the passing of the AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. He died at the age of 72 from COVID-19 complications, after receiving treatment in a Durban hospital for diabetes, for over a month.
He is expected to be buried on Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Hostels accommodate large numbers of people from the rural areas, who find employment in places like Durban.
Hundreds of workers, originally from far-flung rural areas, live at Dalton hostel.
The passing of the AmaZulu King has brought a sombre mood for residents. The regiments had expected to go to KwaNongoma to “plant” or lay to rest, the AmaZulu monarch but Ubunye BamaHostela chairperson Mthembiseni Thusi says they have to observe COVID-19 regulations and will not travel to Nongoma.
“Because of COVID-19, we cannot partake in the funeral service, we would normally go up in large crowds but we can’t. What I would like to encourage our hostel residents is to mourn their king privately and stop all activities during this period.”
A look at AmaZulu King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu’s reign:
The AmaZulu King is the sole trustee of customary land in KwaZulu-Natal. About 3 000 hectares are under the control of the Ingonyama Trust, a body that has suffered much criticism in recent years.
Thusi says he hopes that the incoming AmaZulu monarch will protect the land within the Trust.
“Whoever descends to the throne must make sure that they protect the Ingonyama Trust as silo was doing. We believe if the government can take the land the hostel residents won’t have land to plough on, if he is like his father, we will support him.”
Dalton hostel residents have taken up crafting traditional Zulu shields and drums out of animal skins. Some say they were encouraged by the late King to craft traditional attire as means of preserving it.
“The King bought two big shields from our business, this was significant for us, a proud moment. We are devastated now but there is nothing we can do but accept it now.”
Velakancane Mkhize echoes Shozi’s sentiments and says he will remember the AmaZulu monarch as a source of wisdom and a cultural ambassador.
“We as the Zulu nation must ensure that we preserve our culture and tradition, it must never be forgotten. If we forget our roots it will be the end of the Zulu nation as we know.”
The AmaZulu King will remain respected for his commitment to preserving Zulu culture and traditions.