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Amazulu King Zwelithini laid to rest


ACCORDING to African custom, it rains when a king is buried. 

The heavens opened up last night as the remains of Amazulu King Goodwill Zwelithini arrived at home and was later interred in a secret and sacred ceremony attended by a select group of men closest to him. 

The late King, who ruled over 12-million Amazulu for five decades, was buried at dawn today in an area called “The Valley of Kings”, in KwaNongoma, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, a week after he died from diabetes complication and Covid-19.

Thousands of traditionally clad men, members of Amabutho – regiments – and bare-chested maidens, lined up the streets of Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal to bid farewell to King Zwelithini.

The majority of the members of Amabutho and the maidens were not wearing masks and not keeping a safe distance, in violation of national COVID-19 restrictions. Government officials yesterday scurried to assure the nation that measures were being taken to ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations.

The spear-wielding men and maidens dressed in traditional regalia sang and danced in celebration of a King who has led the Amazulu nation for five decades. They formed a guard of honour as the King’s mortal remains were moved from the mortuary to KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace ahead of tonight’s funeral.

The arrival of the thousands to pay their respects to King Zwelithini was also in violation of advice from the Amazulu royal family.

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Prince Mangosuth Buthelezi, the King’s prime minister and family spokesman, disclosed two days ago that the family has sought help from the South African government to put measures in place to stop the thousands who the family heard were preparing to violate COVID-19 restrictions to pay respect to the King.

“This pandemic has wreaked havoc in our nation. We must do our utmost to protect one another. It will not only be illegal but unconscionable to allow a large gathering in this time. It is extraordinary to bury a King in this manner, in the absence of thousands of mourners. I know that there are many subjects of the King who are not happy. I have already been in touch with our government with regard to certain individuals who have indicated that they plan to break down lockdown restrictions and COVID-19 protocols and descend on Nongoma in large numbers. Measures have been put in place to avert this. Let me state categorically that our late beloved King’s funeral can never be used as an excuse to break protocols and regulations,” Buthelezi said.  The burial was not attended or broadcast by any media. 

The public ceremony honouring King Zwelithini will take place today at the KwaKethamonthadayo royal palace. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who honoured Zwelithini with an official funeral – is expected to deliver a keynote address at the memorial.

By The African Mirror