Durban - The Zulu royal family has lambasted insurance company MiWay for violating its privacy after a "humorous" leaked phone call between King Goodwill Zwelithini and a MiWay sales agent went viral on social media.
It was published on Saturday by TV channel eNCA.
MiWay sales agent, Sithembiso Sithole, unaware who he was speaking to, is heard referring to the king as "Mr Zwelithini Zulu".
In the conversation, in Zulu, Sithole is heard greeting the king with "hello Baba".
After a brief back and forth, the king called the sales agent to order, and accused Sithole of disrupting important meetings with President Jacob Zuma.
He said: “I am the king of the Zulu nation. I have been watching this number even while I was with the president in the last two days, and this call has been bothering me.”
But the king went on to send his well wishes to Sithole.
Sithole apologised profusely before the recording ends.
MiWay chief executive Rene Otto said he called the king to apologise and found the king had seen humour in the incident.
“The king’s response was, 'don’t worry, my brother'. He had a good laugh about the fact that the incident was ‘all over social media'. I was impressed by his generosity of spirit and humanness.”
But the royal family is seeking legal guidance on how to take action against MiWay for allegedly violating the Consumer Protection Act, which refers to privacy and fair marketing.
Spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu said: “It is highly disrespectful in the Zulu culture for anyone to address His Majesty by his first name.”
Zulu said while the employee was remorseful, the family were disappointed that the recording had been leaked and believed the incident was an insult to the Zulu nation and an indication of intolerance of culture.
Otto said: “The king’s constitutional right to privacy was invaded and MiWay’s brand was potentially tarnished in certain circles. We suspect that a rogue MiWay employee unlawfully provided an eNCA journalist with the recording.”
He said investigations were under way and may include disciplinary action and criminal charges for theft of the company property.
He added that the incident was regretted and the company would work on preventing further such incidents.