Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday mourned Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who died earlier in the day after spending some weeks in hospital.
King Zwelithini’s traditional prime minister Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi announced his passing, saying his health had taken a turn for the worse.
“It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation,” Buthelezi, who is also founder and former leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, said in a statement.
“Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty’s health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away in the early hours of this morning.”
In a statement, Ramaphosa said he was deeply saddened by the news of the king’s death, which came “at a time when we had all been hopeful that His Majesty was recovering well in hospital”.
“His Majesty will be remembered as a much-loved, visionary monarch who made an important contribution to cultural identity, national unity and economic development in KwaZulu-Natal and through this, to the development of our country as a whole,” Ramaphosa added.
Tributes for the king also came in from other prominent South Africans and politicians including leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance party John Steenhuisen.
“King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu has been a hugely important and influential figure on our political and cultural landscape for the past five decades since becoming king in 1968,” Steenhuisen said.
African News Agency (ANA)