King Goodwill Zwelithini died on Friday morning.  (Jabulani Langa)

King Goodwill Zwelithini died on Friday morning. (Jabulani Langa)

  • Plans for a week of national mourning was declared by the KZN government.
  • King Goodwill Zwelithini will have a private burial on Wednesday.
  • On Sunday, several high-profile leaders were at the royal palace to pay their last respects.

The Zulu Royal Family has criticised newspapers, City Press and the Sunday Times, for obituaries of King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, which were published on Sunday.

The family described the pieces as “vulgar lies”.

Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi said in a statement: “We have been pierced to the heart by the vulgar lies splashed across two national newspapers by the editor of City Press and in the obituary of the Sunday Times. His Majesty the King has not yet been laid to rest. Yet, while a nation grieves, these journalists have taken it upon themselves to ridicule our pain. One cannot fathom such sadistic cruelty.”

City Press editor-in-chief Mondli Makhanya wrote on Sunday that Zwelithini “should be remembered for what his most prominent role was in our history: a useful idiot in the hands of the apartheid government, whose willingness to lend his powerful position to the service of that regime cost tens of thousands of lives”.

READ | King Goodwill Zwelithini: Apartheid’s useful idiot

Buthelezi said the family is also unaware of a press conference called at the royal palace.

“We are advised that a press conference has been called at the royal palace, where I am right now, [which says] ‘on behalf of the Royal Family’, yet the family has not been made aware of this. It is unfortunate that, in a time such as this, there will be differences of opinion on how matters should be handled, despite clear protocols which are known to all,” he said.

READ | King Goodwill Zwelithini died of Covid-19-related complications – Buthelezi

The plans for a week of national mourning was declared by the KwaZulu-Natal government.

The Zulu Royal Family has thanked South Africans for their messages of condolences on the king’s death.

“On behalf of the Zulu Royal Family, we thank the people of South Africa and the people of our nation for expressing such depth of respect for His Majesty the King. It lightens the burden of grief to know that we walk this valley flanked by endless regiments of support,” Buthelezi said.

He said the king will have a private burial on Wednesday.

The funeral arrangements have been amended, with a memorial prayer service taking place on Thursday.

Several high-profile leaders were at the Kwakhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma to pay their last respects.

It included Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Police Bheki Cele and the premier of KZN, Sihle Zikalala.

Zwelithini died in the early hours of Friday morning due to Covid-19 complications.

He was the longest-serving monarch of the Zulu nation, having reigned for over 50 years.

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