King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu has died. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) president emeritus, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, confirmed the news in a statement issued in his capacity as traditional prime minister to the monarch.
“It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation. 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, speaking on behalf of the royal family, thanked the nation for their “continued prayers and support in this most difficult time.”
Rumours of the king’s death circulated in February, days after he was admitted to the hospital because of high glucose levels. But the speculation was quickly dismissed by the royal family spokesperson.
“I wish to allay the concerns of the nation regarding these fables. His Majesty entered hospital to attend to high glucose levels. He was not, and is still not, frail in any way. Even this morning, he is fully mobile and is continuing treatment for unstable glucose. His doctors preferred that he be treated in ICU [intensive-care unit] in order to attend to this thoroughly,” Buthelezi said.
King Goodwill ascended to the throne in 1968, after the death of his father, King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon. He reigned under the traditional leadership subsection of South Africa’s constitution as king of the Zulu nation.