South Africa’s Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini Dies At 72

Channels Television  
Updated March 12, 2021
In this file photo taken on October 07, 2018 Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini greets his supporters at The Moses Mabhida Football Stadium in Durban during Umkhosi Welembe, an annual commemoration of Zulu King Shaka ka Senzangakhona, a revered military strategist who united the tribes to form the Zulu Nation. RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP


Goodwill Zwelithini, the controversial but revered king of South Africa’s Zulus, died Friday aged 72 after weeks in hospital, his palace announced. 

The king wielded great influence among millions of Zulus through his largely ceremonial and spiritual role despite having no official power in modern South Africa.

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“It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini … King of the Zulu nation,” the palace said a statement signed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a powerful veteran politician who is also a Zulu prince.

In this file photo taken on September 24, 2008 African National Congress ex-President Jacob Zuma (L) joins Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu (R) together with thousands of people to honour the birth of Zulu warrior and founder of the Zulu nation King Shaka at Kwadukuzu, some 90 kilometres north of Durban.  Rajesh JANTILAL / AFP


The king was admitted to hospital last month for diabetes.

“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,” the statement said.

Born in Nongoma, a small town in the south-eastern Kwa-Zulu Natal province, Zwelithini ascended the throne in 1971 during the apartheid era at the age of 23, three years after the death of his father.