Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has died at the age of 72, it was announced this morning.
King Zwelithini died in hospital after being admitted in February due to “unstable glucose levels.” He was known to have been a diabetic. The Royal House said that the King’s health took a turn for the worst and he passed away in the early hours of 12 March.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi said in a statement, “It is with utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini Kabhekuzulu, King of the Zulu nation. Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty’s health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed on in the early hours of this morning.
“On behalf of the Royal Family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time.”
King Zwelithini was the longest serving monarch of the Zulu Kingdom, and he was appointed to the throne at the age of 20 following the death of his father in 1968. He was not crowned until 1971 due to security fears following a plot to have him killed. The future King was born on 14 July 1948 as the eldest son of King Cyprian Bhekuzulu and his second wife Queen Thomo.
It is unclear if the King had appointed a successor but among his many children, Prince Misuzulu Zulu – the eldest son from his marriage to Mantfombi Dlamini, the Great Wife and daughter of King Sobhuza II of Swaziland – is considered to be a serious contender.