Cape Town – The Zulu royal family has decided to pull the plug on the plans for late King Goodwill Zwelithini to lie in state to allow mourners to view his body before the funeral.
Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu monarch and nation Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said on Saturday due to the coronavirus pandemic it would be unconscionable to allow large numbers of people to descend in KwaNongoma to view the body or attend the funeral.
He said even the funeral itself would follow health protocols and only a limited number of people will be allowed to attend it and the country can follow proceedings on television.
Buthelezi said they would not allow the king to lie in state.
“Unfortunately, however, we are faced with the reality that South Africa and the world remain within the grip of a deadly pandemic. The national regulations which are in place, restricting the number of people who may gather, cannot be contravened, even in a time of extraordinary distress,” said Buthelezi.
“It would be unconscionable to allow His Majesty’s passing to become the cause of further deaths among His Majesty’s people. It has therefore been necessary to take the difficult decision for the late King not to be laid in state,” he said.
“I, therefore, make an appeal, on behalf of the family, for mourners not to travel to Nongoma to pay their respects. It is vital that we avoid crowds gathering at this time, as this would place lives in jeopardy,” he said.
“Moreover, as it is well established that funerals are a crucible of Covid-19 outbreaks, a decision has had to be taken regarding the funeral itself. We appreciate His Excellency President Ramaphosa’s announcement that His Majesty will be accorded a Special Official Funeral Category 1. It must be emphasised, however, that even State funerals have adhered to the present protocols restricting numbers. These protocols must be respected.
“The Royal House itself has numbers in excess of what would be allowed in terms of regulations. It is therefore essential to impress upon people that the funeral will not be open for all to attend,” said Buthelezi.
He urged the public to follow proceedings on television to avoid large crowds.
“These are extraordinary times which will not be forgotten in the collective memory of our nation. In this historic moment, we are bound by the need to protect the lives of the late King’s relatives and all his people,” said Buthelezi.
He said arrangements for the funeral will be announced in due course.