DURBAN: A KwaDukuza furniture manufacturer has approached the courts to attach the assets of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini over a debt owed to him for chairs he crafted.
Kuber Eadhev Singh, 76, known as the Tamboti King, said he was left with no option but to institute civil action to retrieve his money after his pleas for payment were ignored for more than two years.
Singh manufactured two royal-styled tambuti wooden chairs for the king, along with seven chairs for his wives. He also made 10 side tables.
The orders were placed by a representative of the Royal Household in 2014. Singh claims the representative even came in regularly to monitor his progress.
Six months later, the furniture was delivered to the royal household and, to date, he has not been paid the more than R110 000 bill.
Singh is the only person in the world to manufacture furniture using tambuti wood, which is found on the banks of the Tugela river, Zululand and in Limpopo.
Last month, he sought a request for a default judgment to be granted in the KwaDukuza Magistrate’s Court for the amount of R111 600 and R367 judgment costs
He previously served a summons to the Office of the Royal Household and a receipt was acknowledged. However, payment was still not made.
Singh, who hails from a royal family in Agra, India, said he shared a long-standing and warm relationship with the Zulu king. But was disappointed by his actions.
“It’s a matter of principle. Royals believe in the power of the sword and honesty. This is no way for people who come from a royal family to behave. It took me six months to hand-craft those chairs.
“So much time, effort and love went into this. But this is what I get in return. I am old and it makes me sad to be treated this way,” he said.
Singh said he was startled to see his chairs being used on many occasions by the king as he takes them with him, wherever he goes.
“I recently saw the king on TV, sitting on my chair at an event. He also used my chairs at the Gopio International Conference that was held in Durban not too long ago. He is making good use of the furniture manufactured but has not paid me.”
Singh is no stranger to royal families of the world.
He has manufactured furniture in the past for the British royals, several heads of states as well as for other high profile individuals. Many acknowledged his work through letters to him, including some from Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, and a letter of acknowledgement from the British queen.
He said he had often gifted the Zulu king furniture items in the past.
“I just want what is rightfully owed to me, to be paid to me. The fact that my numerous communications made to the royal household were ignored, hurts me.
“I started in this business with my dad in 1961 and, in 56 years, I have never experienced anything like this.
“Normally, people pay before they take delivery, but in this case I allowed for them to be delivered first considering it was for the Zulu king, whom I considered a friend,” said Singh.
King Goodwill Zwelithini’s spokesman Prince Thulani Zulu said he was unaware of the matter. He referred queries to a Mr Sithole who had apparently ordered the chairs. However, the Sunday Tribune has been unable to reach him despite several attempts.