Late Zulu king Zwelithini’s body arrives back home
A convoy carrying the body of South African Zulu late king Goodwill Zwelithini back to his native Kwa-Zulu Natal province was greeted by spear-bearing warriors Saturday.
convoy carrying the body of South African Zulu late king Goodwill Zwelithini back to his native Kwa-Zulu Natal province was greeted by spear-bearing warriors Saturday.
The 72-year-old monarch died early Friday in Durban after weeks of treatment for a diabetes-related illness. He had reigned over South Africa’s largest ethnic group since 1971.
Inside one of his palaces, groups of men in traditional dress, bearing spears and shields, marched and chanted in honour of the late monarch, who was crowned at the age of 23.
lthough his title did not bestow political power, the sharp-tongued Zwelithini held considerable influence over more than 11 million people.
His cortege arrived in his birthplace, the small southeastern town of Nangoma, late in the day, having passed groups of men and women who greeted it with high-pitched cries.
Earlier, Zulu warriors dressed in leopard skins formed an honour guard as the king’s body left the hospital.
It would normally be presented for public viewing before a funeral, but his entourage said Saturday that would not be possible because of the precautions necessary against Covid-19.
Zulu prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said an official funeral would be broadcast live “so that the nation might honour His Majesty from their homes”.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has granted the king a special official funeral of the type usually reserved for presidents and ex-presidents, and ordered national flags to be flown at half-mast.
While widely venerated, Zwelithini was also controversial for reviving festivals that celebrated virgin women, and was blamed for fuelling deadly xenophobic violence.
He denounced gays as “rotten” and enjoyed a lavish and hedonistic lifestyle in a country where millions live in poverty.
The late king’s family has not yet announced a date for his funeral, and no successor has yet been named.