The privacy that surrounded parts of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s burial yesterday was normal protocol in how a king ought to be laid to rest as the leader of the Zulu nation.

This is according to cultural experts who spoke to the Sowetan yesterday as Zwelithini was finally laid to rest.

The king’s regiments accompanied his body from the local mortuary to KwaKhethomthandayo, in Nongoma, where he was laid to rest.

Maidens also formed part of the lengthy procession as locals in Nongoma came out from their homes to salute the longest-reigning king ever to lead the Zulu nation.

Zwelithini died on March 12 at the age of 72 after being in hospital for several weeks due to “several unstable glucose readings”, the royal family said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver the eulogy at his memorial service which will be held today.

Cultural expert Dr Velaphi Othi Mkhize said the spot where the king is laid to rest cannot be revealed to the public.

“The king uses traditional medicine. He has traditional healers that he consults. These people are not known to the public. No-one can know who is the king’s traditional healer. When the king is being laid to rest, his burial must be a top secret.

“Witches were there in the past and are still here even today. They can go to where the king has been buried and do evil things … This could mean trouble for the royal family and even the entire nation.”

Mkhize said a selected few would be able to see the king at his final resting place at KwaKhethomthandayo, his father King Bhekuzulu ’s home.

“A few of the king’s regiment will be chosen according to seniority to take the king’s body to the grave. It will  only be men. It may be 10 or 20 men with their sons. No women will be allowed there,” he said.

He said the exclusion of women was due to the fact that, traditionally, menstruation is perceived as unclean. Therefore women cannot be present at the king’s grave.

Mkhize said the graves of kings of the Zulu kingdom are scattered across the province. Among these is King Shaka’s grave in KwaDukuza, on the north coast, while Mpande and Dingane kaSenzangakhona are believed to have been buried in Pietermaritzburg.

Zwelithini decided on his own that his family would be buried at night.

Mkhize said at this stage no-one would know who will replace Zwelithini as such a decision is taken in consultation with his royal council.

“The king does not take such a decision by himself. He has a royal council which advises him on succession. That is why it is wrong what was written in the papers that his late son [Prince Lethukuthula] would ascend to the throne,” Mkhize said

Another traditional expert, Alco Ngobese who is a prince in the Ngobese clan in Nquthu, said since the day of king’s death, the entire Zulu nation ought to have entered a proper time of mourning.

“Cattle do not go to the pastures. No-one should go to the fields to work, no man should sleep with his wife in respect of the king’s death,” Ngobese said.

He said the actual grave has to remain the secret of the royal family.

“The king’s burial is secret. The land we live in has witches who can visit the grave and do evil things on it, hence only the royal family has to know where the king is buried”.

When things are not going right, the royal family can go to the king’s grave to cry. It is our belief as blacks that the person’s spirit is still with us,” Ngobese said.

Credit: Sowetani

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