Messages of condolences continue to pour in for King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu, who passed away this morning.
Traditional Prime Minister to the King, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, confirmed the tragic news on Friday morning.
The King of the Zulu Nation met his death in the early hours of this morning at a Durban hospital after battling with his health for a while.
He was 72.
Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, extended his heartfelt sympathies to the family of the King.
Mthethwa said King Zwelithini made history as the longest-serving monarch of the Zulu Kingdom, with a reign spanning over five decades.
Born on 14 July 1948, he was the eldest son born to King Cyprian Bhekuzulu and his second wife, Queen Thomo.
He was crowned King in 1971, following the passing of his father in 1968.
“The sun has set on the Zulu nation. King Goodwill Zwelithini was a true custodian of Zulu culture, who was proud of his identity and heritage as umZulu. He was a direct descendent of the great King Shaka Zulu and ruled throughout the apartheid era,” said Mthethwa.
The Minister said he was regarded as a unifying force in the Zulu Kingdom. The Minister also described him as a “bold and fearless leader who led one of the biggest monarchies in the world”.
“Our hearts are with his family, his children, the Zulu nation and South Africa as a whole,” said Mthethwa.
Meanwhile, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, said she was saddened by His Majesty’s passing.
“Having learnt of the hospitalisation of His Majesty a few weeks back and regular updates that we have been getting about his health, I have been hopeful of his speedy recovery,” said Didiza.
The King was a sole trustee of the Ingonyama Trust, an entity of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.
He is also remembered as someone who always provided his vision for the Ingonyama Trust Board.
“We have worked very well with His Majesty on improving the operations of the Ingonyama Trust Board and subsequently improving the lives of his subjects.
“I wish to send my heartfelt and sincere condolences to the royal family and the Zulu nation. We continue to pray for your strength during this difficult time and may His Majesty rest in eternal peace,” Didiza said.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula also paid his respects to the late King, saying he built an unparalleled and unprecedented rural development agenda, enhancing indigenous economies with his great wisdom.
“He recognised the fact that unless the voice of young people is recognised and not stifled, the country as no future. I had constant interactions with him, pondering on questions affecting our country.
“He reached out and listened to any political persuasion, not bound by ideological borders,” Mbalula said
Earlier in the day, President Cyril Ramaphosa also conveyed his condolences, saying the King will be remembered as a visionary.
“His Majesty will be remembered as a much-loved, visionary monarch, who made an important contribution to cultural identity, national unity and economic development in KwaZulu-Natal and through this, to the development of our country as a whole,” the President said.