The Zulu Royal Family has announced that the remains of the AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, will not lie in state, as previously planned, due to COVID-19 restrictions. The 72-year-old AmaZulu monarch died in a Durban hospital in the early hours of Friday from COVID-19 complications.

He had been in hospital for over a month.

In a statement, Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarch, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, says COVID-19 regulations restrict the number of people that are allowed to gather.

“Unfortunately, however, we are faced with the reality that South Africa and the world remain within the grip of a deadly pandemic. The national regulations which are in place, restricting the number of people who may gather, cannot be contravened, even in a time of extraordinary distress.”

Professor Bheki Mngomzulu shares some customs, rituals on King Goodwill Zwelithini’s burial:

Scores of mourners have been coming in and out of the palace to pay their respects to the royal family.

Buthelezi says they don’t want the King’s funeral to be a spreader of the pandemic among his people.

“It would be unconscionable to allow His Majesty’s passing to become the cause of further deaths among His Majesty’s people. It has therefore been necessary to take the difficult decision for the late King not to be laid in state. I therefore make an appeal, on behalf of the family, for mourners not to travel to Nongoma to pay their respects. It is vital that we avoid crowds gathering at this time, as this would place lives in jeopardy.”

The reign of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu: 

Special Official Funeral Category 1

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a Special Official Funeral Category 1 for the late King. However, Buthelezi says despite the official funeral, it is important that state funerals also adhere to COVID-19 restrictions on attendance numbers.

He says while the funeral will not be open for all to attend, it will be broadcast live.

“The Royal House itself has numbers in excess of what would be allowed in terms of regulations. It is therefore essential to impress upon people that the funeral will not be open for all to attend. As a Special Official Funeral, it will be broadcast live so that the nation might honour His Majesty from their homes. We ask, with all due respect, that mourners therefore stay at home and use this time to pray.”

Buthelezi says the Royal family will announce in due course the date of the funeral.

Traditional leaders and mourners gather to receive the body of King Goodwill Zwelithini: