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South African Bishop Mourns Traditional King, Says He “respected Catholic Church”

A Catholic Bishop in South Africa has eulogized king Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, the traditional leader of the Zulu people, as an approachable man “who respected the Catholic Church.” 

The 72-year-old monarch succumbed to diabetes at the Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban, South Africa. 

Having been the longest-serving monarch of the Zulu Kingdom, the government of South Africa directed that the country’s flag be flown at half mast until the evening of the day he will be laid to rest.

In a statement published Tuesday, March 16 by the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA), Bishop Thaddeaus Xolelo Kumalo of South Africa’s Witbank Diocese says he “felt quite sad” when he learnt about the King’s demise. 

“King Zwelithini was a very warm and humble man, who respected the Catholic Church.” Bishop Kumalo has been quoted as saying in the March 15 statement. 

The South African Bishop who, until November 2020, served in the Diocese of Eshowe that covers parts of the Zulu kingdom, says that although the monarch was an Anglican,  he “was very close to the Catholic Church and would often wear the rosary on top of his Zulu traditional regalia.” 

The late king, the Bishop says, was “a warm person who wanted to build the nation.”

The 66-year-old Bishop goes on to describe the late Zulu king as “an exemplary man who encouraged people, especially the youth, to be self-reliant through agriculture and other development programs.”

King Zwelithini, the eldest son of the late king Cyprian and his second wife, the late Queen Thomozile Ndwandwe, became a monarch at the age of 20 when his father died.

Read more at ACI Africa

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