Senior members of the Zulu Royal household are finalising plans to “plant” or lay AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu to rest on Wednesday night.

The plans for the week of national mourning, as declared by the KwaZulu-Natal government, will be announced at 4pm on Sunday.

The Zulu Royal Family has thanked South Africans for messages of condolences following the King’s bowing out.

Earlier, senior Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Blessed Gwala spoke to SABC News at  the KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. 

Gwala was among a group of local government leaders who visited the family to pay their respects.

He explains some of the terms of reference being used in the run up to what’s called ‘the planting’ and memorial service later this week.

“Here in KwaZulu, we believe that the King is unlike everybody else. The King is different. He is just like an angel that has been sent down to earth in order to rule for a certain period of time and then he will also go and allow the other one to come in. You can’t say the King is dead because he can’t die, an angel can’t die. He is a God-sent leader who has come down to do a particular assignment and rule over the people for a certain period thereafter then he has to depart and allow the other one to take over.”

Gwala also explained the customary Zulu belief that the current King’s spirit is expected to transfer into the next King.

“So to say ukhotheme (bowed down) is ukhothema just as you kneel down and then that’s what it means because he will never die and to say nitshala iNkosi meaning that you plant iNkosi is because he will germinate in the next days or months. The one that will actually be elected formally by the royal family will be the same one who actually has been planted in the past, so that’s how it works.”

Cultural and heritage expert Prof Somadoda Fikeni elaborates on protocols regarding African royal burials:

‘King led from the front’

IFP leader, Velenkosini Hlabisa, says AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu led from the front, promoting the Zulu culture.

Hlabisa is among several high-profile leaders who are at the Kwakhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma to pay their last respects.

Live proceedings outside KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace:

King Zwelithini passed on in the early hours of Friday morning due to COVID-19 complications.

Hlabisa says, “The departure of His Majesty leaves the country and the Zulu nation naked. We are at the weakest point. His Majesty The King was an exemplary leader. He promoted the culture of Africanness, the culture of the Zulu nation. He promoted the values. He was a champion of defending women and children. He was at the forefront of gender-based violence.”

King’s body will not lie in state: 

The public has been urged not to visit any of the Zulu Royal Palaces in KwaZulu Natal due to risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.