NONGOMA: Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini passed on in the early hours of Friday morning at the age of 72.
King Zwelithini has been hospitalised since early February for diabetes treatment. The sad news about his passing has been confirmed by the Zulu traditional Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi in a statement saying, “It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of his Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu.”
“Tragically, while still in the hospital, His Majesty’s health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away in the early hours of this morning,” said Prince Buthelezi.
He further said, on behalf of the royal family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time.
Who was King Zwelithini?
King Zwelithini was the longest-serving Zulu monarch in history, reigning for more than five decades.
While the traditional leader’s role was largely spiritual and ceremonial, he was occasionally involved in politics.
The king was the sole trustee of the Ingonyama Trust, which manages nearly 3 million hectares (7,4 acres) of communally-owned land. In 2019, he vowed to protect his land when a South African authority proposed scrapping the Ingonyama Trust.
King Zwelithini reigned over nearly 11 million Zulu people living in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Thousands of Zulu people around Africa, including in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, also recognized the monarch.
He had six wives and 28 children.