KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has cautioned those who intend paying their respects to King Goodwill Zwelithini that the country is in the midst of a pandemic.He reminded the public that South Africa was still under Alert Level 1 lockdown.Zikalala said Covid-19 regulations would apply to the king’s send-off and memorial.KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has cautioned the public that, although King Goodwill Zwelithini’s funeral is important for many people, the Covid-19 pandemic is a real threat to lives.

“We also wish to remind all dignitaries, visitors, and guests that we are under Alert Level 1 of the Covid-19 regulations and that we are still faced by the real threat of the third wave,” he warned on Wednesday.

Zikalala was speaking ahead of Zwelithini’s funeral, which is scheduled for Wednesday evening. A memorial service is scheduled for Thursday.

“We are thus expected to observe all the relevant restrictions, including sanitising, [practising] social distancing, and the wearing of masks at all times.”

He said Covid-19 regulations had to be followed strictly.

He said: 

As we say goodbye to His Majesty, government will ensure that all laws and regulations are observed to ensure the safety and security of the royal family and that of all distinguished guests and mourners during the service of King Goodwill kaBhekuZulu.

“We will do everything to ensure that His Majesty’s service is not used as a reason to break any laws and regulations of our country and measures are in place to ensure that maximum safety and security is observed at the service.”

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Zikalala said respect for Zwelithini was paramount.

He continued: 

In whatever way we choose to pay our last respects to His Majesty, we must do so with the appropriate decorum and dignity that does not, in the end, sully the legacy of His Royal Highness, or indeed place his family and other mourners in danger of contracting the virus.

“As we contend with this difficult and emotional moment of having to traverse the twists and turns of life without the physical presence of His Majesty the king, we who have felt the warmth and a sense of renewal at every interaction with the king, must let his teachings of respect, honour and conducting ourselves with decorum guide us.”

Thanks to those who paid respects

He said that since Zwelithini’s death, “hundreds of people have descended on the royal residence KwaKhethomthandayo to pay their respects to the king and to personally convey their condolences to the king’s family and the nation of AmaZulu”.

“We wish to thank all individuals and organisations from South Africa and the rest of the world who, in person and in messages, have conveyed their own sense of loss at the passing of His Majesty and sent words of comfort to the royal family and the people of KwaZulu-Natal.”

Zwelithini died of Covid-19-related complications after a long stay in hospital and ICU for a diabetes condition.

He was the longest-serving monarch, ramping up nearly 50 years of rule. He first took up the position in his early 20s.