His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu passed has passed away at the age of 72, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has announced.
Buthelezi made the announcement on Friday morning (12 March) in a statement issued in his capacity as traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch and nation.
Turn for the worse
Zwelithini had been in hospital in recent days, reportedly for a diabetes-related condition. “Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty’s health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away in the early hours of this morning,” Buthelezi said.
“On behalf of the Royal Family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time.”
Condolence messages have begun streaming in for the late King. DA leader John Steenhuisen tweeted, “Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, the Royal House and the Zulu nation in this time of loss. May you find comfort and strength as you mourn and celebrate his full life. May His Majesty rest in peace.”
The EFF also sent its “profound condolences to the longest-reigning monarch of Zulu royalty” and shared a picture of its leader Julius Malema visiting the late King in 2017.
Ramaphosa ‘deeply saddened’
President Cyril Ramaphosa said he was “deeply saddened” by the King’s passing. “This sad news come at a time when we had all been hopeful that His Majesty was recovering well in hospital where he had been over the past few weeks,” he said.
“His Majesty will be remembered as a much-loved, visionary monarch who made an important contribution to cultural identity, national unity and economic development in KwaZulu-Natal and through this, to the development of our country as a whole.”
Until his passing, Zwelithini had reigned as King of the Zulu Kingdom since 1968 after the death of his father. The Zulu nation is South Africa’s largest ethnic group, comprising about 20 percent of the population.