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Mgilija the Zulu regiments commander, induna, police officer, karate sensei and much more

Published Nov 11, 2021


DURBAN - BESIDES being a celebrated induna and the popular commander of the Zulu regiments under the late King Goodwill Zwelithini, Zihogozelanga Maguzumela Nhleko, who was affectionately by his clan name Mgilija, was a police officer under the then KwaZulu government.

The KwaZulu government was one of the self-governing territories within South Africa and prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi was prime minister. In the late ’90s, he formed the police unit of his homeland and Induna Mgilija was also recruited. Mgilija’s brother, Seth Nhleko, told the Daily News on Wednesday that there is another side of his brother which many people may have known.

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Nhleko confirmed his brother was once a police officer and was attached to the late IFP strongman prince Gideon Zulu as a bodyguard. Zulu became the social development MEC in 1994 after the IFP won the first democratic election in the province. Nhleko said his brother worked with Zulu but after Zulu died, Mgilija went to the department offices in Ladysmith until he retired at the age of 60 in 2010.

Nhleko said his brother was also a karate sensei with a brown belt. Before trekking to Durban to look for a better job, Mgilija worked in Hlobane mines. In Durban, he worked for brick manufacturing company Amalgamated and lived in a KwaMashu hostel.

“My brother was a born leader because while in KwaMashu he was also appointed induna yezinsiswa (young men’s induna). Part of his job was to organise amabutho living in Durban during traditional ceremonies like Shaka’s Day in KwaDukuza. After the NFP won Zululand municipality in 2011, Mgilija was hired as messenger to deliver invitation letters to more than 30 amakhosi by the late mayor Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. He continued with the job until the municipality asked him to leave recently due to his age.”

Nheko announced that Mgilija would be buried in his village of Osuthu on Saturday. Although he said the government had not formally approached him, he had heard that it was planning to assist. He said this was something the family would appreciate as his brother led amabutho at a young age until he was appointed as commander. He disputed that his brother was no longer an amabutho commander, saying there was only a proposal made by Osuthu headmen council, but King Misuzulu had not fired him as the media had reported.

Mgilija died in hospital on Monday after a long illness. Nhleko said his brother took ill after he was publicly rebuked by prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi for taking amabutho to support former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla during Zuma’s imminent arrest in July. At the time of publication, the provincial government did not comment on whether or not it would honour Mgilija with a state funeral.

Daily News

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