King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu was “laid to rest” at Nongoma on Wednesday night, 16 March 2021, under top secrecy. The site of his burial is kept such a top secret that even some of the royal family are not aware of his exact burial place. The memorial service was held on Thursday, 17 March 2021, at KwaKhetomthandayo in Northern KwaZulu-Natal attended by several dignitaries including President Cyril Ramaphosa, HRH Princess Charlene of Monaco and the Zulu nation itself. Former President Jacob Zuma was also present.
Speaking at the memorial service Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, umtwa’ka Phindungene, pointed out that King Zwelithini was the longest reigning monarch in the history of the Zulu nation having been on the throne for nearly 50 years. That King Goodwill Zwelithini loved the Zulu people unconditionally. He became King on the passing of his father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu, in 1968. Fearing assassination, Prince Goodwill Zwelithini sought refuge in the Transvaal from 1968 to 1971, while his uncle, Prince Israel Mcwayizeni, acted as regent. Zwelithini was installed as the eighth Zulu monarch on 03 December 1971 at a ceremony held at Nongoma attended by about 20 000 people. The King died in a Durban hospital on 12 March 2021 after he was admitted for blood glucose complications.
Announcing the death of the monarch, the traditional Prime Minister of the Zulu monarchy, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, confirmed that King Goodwill Zwelithini passed away of COVID-19 complications. Buthelezi said in an interview that the king contracted COVID-19 in hospital. He was 72 years of old. He passed away in the early hours of 12 March 2021. Buthelezi says the King was admitted to ICU in hospital last month for diabetes. Buthelezi made the announcement earlier on the morning of 12 March 2021 in a live SABC radio broadcast.
Also speaking at the memorial service, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that King Goodwill Zwelithini was a peace loving person and that he was often consulted for advice by many. He said that it was important that the legacy of the late King be preserved.
Kng Zwelithini was the ninth of the Zulu monarchs, from the founder of the Zulu nation, King Shaka kaSenzangakhona, who ruled from 1816-1828, followed by kaSenzangakhona , 1828-1840, Mpande kaSenzangakhona , 1840-1856, Cetshwayo kaMpande, 1856-1884, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (1st term), 1884-1887, Queen Victoria, 1887-1897, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo (2nd term), 1897-1913, Solomon ka Dinuzulu, 1913-1933, Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon, 1948-1968, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, 1971-2021.
King Goodwill Zwelthini was the custodian of Zulu traditions including the annual reed dance which is attended by thousands of Zulu maidens annually.
The Zulu royal family has appointed the third wife of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini as regent until a new monarch takes the throne.
Queen Mantfombi MaDlamini Zulu is the “Great Wife” of the late King, a position she held since her marriage to the king in 1977. She is the sister of King Mswati III of Swaziland(Eswathini).
Her appointment has increased speculation that one of her sons, Prince Misuzulu (47), will become king of the Zulu nation which is estimated at 11 million people . The king’s traditional prime minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said her appointment was in accordance with late King’s wishes.