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S.Africa to rebury Zulu queen for $45m

Published on 04/05/2011

South Africa will rebury the mother of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini at a cost of $45 million after a more than two-year search for her remains, public broadcaster SABC said Wednesday.

The king, the traditional leader of the country’s largest ethnic group, had asked officials in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal to help him find the remains of his mother, Queen Thomozile Jezangani KaNdwandwe Zulu.

SABC said officials plan to rebury her exhumed remains Saturday and hold an unveiling and memorial ceremony Sunday at a total cost to taxpayers of 300 million rand ($45 million, 30 million euros).

The final resting place of the queen, who died in the 1950s in her early 30s, had been unknown.

After a more than two-year search that was drawn out by legal red tape, officials from the province’s largest city, Durban, announced they had found a grave containing the remains of a woman named Thoko Zulu and carried out DNA tests that identified her as the queen.

She will be reburied at a memorial site in the Durban neighbourhood of Cato Manor, where she lived at the end of her life and where the city plans to develop a cultural museum and heritage centre, officials said.

The king is the symbolic leader of South Africa’s 11 million Zulus but has no formal political power.

He is a descendant of King Shaka, the 19th-century leader who is still revered for uniting a large swathe of the country as the Zulu nation and waging bloody battles against the region’s British colonisers.