COVID-19 forces changes to plan to honour King


THE Amazulu royal family yesterday cancelled its plans to have the late monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini lie in state out of fear that the thousands expected to descend on the royal house to pay their respects would lead to the violation of COVID-19 regulations.

Initial plans were that the remains of King Zwelithini, which were moved from Durban to Nongoma, in northern KwaZulu-Natal yesterday, would spend some time at each of his six palaces before lying in state. 

The Zulu King, who has been on the throne for 50 years, died on Friday from diabetes-related complications.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the King’s prime minister and spokesperson for the royal family, announced the changes yesterday.

Buthelezi announced that due to COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral of King Zwelithini will not be open for all to attend.

“We are faced with the reality that South Africa and the world remain within the grip of a deadly pandemic. The national regulations, which are in place, restrict the number of people who may gather, cannot be contravened, even in a time of extraordinary distress.

“It would be unconscionable to allow His Majesty’s passing to become the cause of further deaths among His Majesty’s people. It has therefore been necessary to take the difficult decision for the late King not to lie in state. I therefore make an appeal, on behalf of the family, for mourners not to travel to Nongoma to pay their respects. It is vital that we avoid crowds gathering at this time, as this would place lives in jeopardy.

The royal house itself has numbers in excess of would be allowed in terms of regulations. It is, therefore, essential to impress upon people that the funeral will not be open for all to attend.  As a special official funeral, it will be broadcast live so that the nation might honour His Majesty from their homes. We ask, with due respect, that mourners therefore stay at home and use this time to pray,” Buthelezi said.

The message from the Amazulu royal family came as crowds started to gather at the royal palace, where the KIng was expected to lie in state.

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