WATCH: Thousands gather to pay last respects to King
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THE northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Nongoma has ground to a complete standstill as thousands of Zulu regiments and maidens march through the town as they prepare to accompany the body of King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu to KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace.
His Majesty, who succumbed to diabetes aged 72 at the Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital on Friday, will be buried by men only in a private ceremony at midnight going into the early hours of Thursday morning.
Clad in their colourful Zulu traditional costumes the regiments and maidens took over the town’s solitary main road singing traditional songs and dances to the cheers of scores of people who have lined up on the sides of the road to watch the march.
Traffic congestion in the small town is a daily struggle as motorists have to share one road but traffic officers today have had their hands full directing slow moving traffic in the town’s only main road.
Shops and hawkers in the town had to close business for over an hour as the regiments and maidens made their way to the mortuary where izinduna are set to receive His Majesty’s body before taking his remains to the royal palace.
Earlier in the week, Nongoma mayor Albert Mncwango said that they had been in negotiations with the local chamber of business to have shops and hawkers close up for an hour to allow the regiments and maidens to march through.
Nomusa Nyandeni, a hawker who sells an assortment of fruits and vegetables in the town, said that she only became aware of the request for shops and hawkers to close their stalls today.
“If I had known yesterday that we would have to close, I would not have come to town today. I would’ve stayed at home, but I have no problem because we are aware of the situation, and we can’t go against the law and we take this as a sign of respect for His Majesty,” Nyandeni said.
Another hawker, Sibongile Mncwango, said that closing her stall for an hour was not an issue as the priority was showing respect to the fallen King.
“We accept that we have to do this. We will continue conducting our business after the regiments and maidens have passed through. We have suffered a great loss with the King’s passing and we have to respect him because whenever we faced challenges he would fight fiercely for us because he knew this is how we make our living,” Mncwango said.
Induna Solomon Musa “Mtimande” Kunene, one of the King’s closest izinduna, said that the day’s activities including the march were a sign of mourning for the King.
“We have travelled with the King everywhere he went and we saw it fitting that we sacrifice and walk this long distance by foot, even if we get tired, to walk with him to his final resting place.
“We have lost our pillar, and our hearts are bleeding. It's just that people might not see just how broken we are. We want to give His Majesty a fitting farewell so that wherever he is, he can see that his regiments are near him even in his final journey,” Kunene said.