The Zulu royal family says they will meet on Saturday to discuss preparations for the burial of AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a Special Official Funeral Category One for King Zwelithini. The national flag will fly at half-mast from Saturday until the evening on the day of the funeral.

The 72-year-old King died of COVID-19 complications in a Durban hospital on Friday. He had been in hospital for just over a month after being admitted for diabetes, according to the traditional Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

The King’s brother, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, has described the king’s death as a great loss to the family.

“As the family, we haven’t had the meeting together, but everything is being led by Prince of kwaPhindangene and the entire royal family members. I believe once we meet tomorrow that’s when we will inform the world what is gonna happen,” says Zulu.

 Tributes pour in for King Zwelithini:

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has joined others in sending a message of condolence following King Zwelithini’s death.

The IFP has sent its condolences. IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa says the king remained a champion in the ongoing struggle for full liberation from social and economic injustice even after the country achieved democracy.

“The loss of his Majesty the King will be mourned in millions of homes for he led his people with dignity, wisdom and compassion. His Majesty was an example as he called the nation to return to subsistence farming, to produce food and invest in Agriculture. He revived the culture of the Zulu Nation and preserved values and tradition of the Zulu people.”

More royal houses visit the palace to pay tributes:

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the province has lost the father and the pillar of the nation with the death of AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.

He is the longest-serving monarch of the Zulu nation, having reigned for over 50 years.

Zikalala says the king played a key role in the consolidation of post-apartheid South Africa into a democracy that recognised the diversity of the country. Zikalala says the King will be remembered for his role as a uniting Monarch who stood above political party rivalry.

“The 12th of March 2021 has now unscripted itself as the historic and painful day on which the sunset during the day in KwaZulu-Natal as our Monarchy breathed his last. His majesty may have made the transition to the new world but our pain will be alleviated by the lasting legacy that our monarchy left us,” says Zikalala.

KZN Premier Zikalala media briefing on the King’s passing:

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