King’s body will not lie in state: Prince Buthelezi

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The traditional prime minister in the house of the AmaZulu royal family Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has confirmed that King Goodwill Zwelithini passed away from COVID-19-related complications, including his blood sugar levels from diabetes.

The king was 72. He spent five weeks in hospital in Durban.

In a sometimes emotional and sometimes humorous speech, Buthelezi said any differences that had existed between himself and the King were settled some time ago.

Buthelezi was speaking at a gathering of the royal family in Nongoma where funeral arrangements are being made.

The king will get a Special Official Funeral Category 1. His body is being kept at the Nongoma mortuary and he will not lie in state because of the pandemic.

People are urged not to try to attend the king’s funeral and to rather follow the ceremony on TV or any other medium.

The SABC will cover the funeral live on its platforms. A date for the funeral has not yet been announced.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi addresses traditional leaders on the Zulu King’s passing:

On Saturday, the staff at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban gathered to see the hearse transporting the remains the of AmaZulu king to a mortuary at Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Several Amabhuto (men belonging to a Zulu regiment) from around Durban were also there to see their king off.

Phumazidle Majola says they feel vulnerable after the king’s death. “It is important that the Amabutho must come and collect the body and take him to palace kwaKhethomthandayo where the burial of the King will take place. We are greatly saddened by the passing of the king and we did not even go to work as we wanted to be here to collect the body of the king to the palace.”

A visionary leader devoted to his people:

Maidens, who have taken part in the annual Reed Dance ceremony, have voiced their shock at the passing of the King.

The maiden-minders – the women who look after the maidens participating in the Reed Dance – are equally saddened.

Nomagugu Ngobese of the Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation, who also attend the Reed Dance at eNyokeni Palace in the northern KwaZulu-Natal, says they have started mourning the death of the king.

“The news that came yesterday, they were so sad and we started to mourn immediately when we heard the bad news. And to me, it seems like a huge tree has fallen. It is hard even to believe when we think how hard our king was working with us all, not in KZN only, because people who know the history will remember that South Africa wide; in Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, everywhere there are Zulus there.”

Below is a timeline of key moments of the King’s life: 

-Reporting by Nandika Beukes and Nonkululeko Hlophe