Mlandeni ‘Mgilija’ Nhleko laid to rest

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The late former leader of the Zulu regiments Mlandeni ‘Mgilija’ Nhleko was described by many as a true leader of warriors.

The 72-year-old Nhleko passed away on Monday after a short illness.

He was laid to rest in Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The Amabutho came out in numbers to bid their warrior leader farewell.

Regiments came from all over the province and from as far as Johannesburg to gather at the Nhlalangwenya village, the home of Nhleko.

 Funeral of former Amabutho leader Mlandeni ‘Mgilija’ Nhleko:

Chanting traditional hymns, they sang praise songs to Zihogo Zelanga, Nhleko’s praise name.

Members of the AmaZulu Royal family were also in attendance.

Nhleko, fondly known as ‘Mgilija’ was born in March 1949 in Nongoma. He grew up as a headman and later worked in Durban as a police reservist.

He also worked as a driver for a former provincial member of the executive committee, Prince Gideon Zulu.

He retired in 2016 and dedicated his time to becoming a leader of the regiments.

His family says he was a loving and caring person.

Brother Seth Nhleko says, “We lost a loving father in our family as he was always a father to his children and he loved sport as he has a brown belt in karate.”

Nhleko became prominent as he often led the regiments during cultural events and presided over the laying to rest of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini khaBhekuzulu.

Member of the royal family Prince Mbonisi Zulu says: “The royal house is sad for the leader that passed on. He came out during the passing of the late king by taking a stand showing bravery when everyone was concerned about COVID-19. He was a strong leader.”

Earlier this year, Nhleko became embroiled in controversy when he supported former President Jacob Zuma at Nkandla which led to a fall-out with reigning King Misizulu.

A representative of the king also attended the funeral.

DR Dumisani Khumalo says: “Usuthu traditional council; the current King Misuzulu kaZwelithini kaBhekuzulu sent me with a cow to give the Nhleko family. We thank his work at the royal house.”

Some of the Amabutho refused to salute the king, a sign that is causing divisions amongst the Amabutho over the ongoing feud related to the succession to the throne.

The regiments, in a colourful display of amaZulu culture, escorted the body of Mgilija to his last resting place. He is survived by three wives and six children.