UDM leader Bantu Holomisa greets traditional leaders at King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu at Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale, Eastern Cape Picture: Sithandiwe Velaphi

Durban - Xhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu’s subjects believe the only way to maintain the late monarch’s legacy would be to bring development in his nation.

Sigcawu, 51, died on Thursday morning at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha while he was on his way to Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban.

He was with his wife Queen Simanye Sigcawu and his subjects when he died.

Mourners have been coming in and out of Xhosa kingdom’s palace at Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale on Thursday to pay their last respects. Mourners included Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Xolile Nqata, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa and other senior government officials.

Sigcawu’s right-hand man, Chief Zanenkululeko Salakuphathwa said although they knew that the king has not been feeling well in recent years, they never expected that he would die.

Salakuphathwa said the king was very passionate about development of the people of his nation. 

“He had adopted Thafalofefe TB Hospital in Centane, where he donated blankets and TV sets for patients. He also visited schools to donate sanitary pads for needy pupils,” said Salakuphathwa.

Salakuphathwa said the Xhosa monarch hosted the annual King Zwelonke Easter Tournament for football and netball. “He wanted to see his nation developing and would speak out on public platforms about the lack of service delivery,” said Salakuphathwa.

“The only way to maintain his legacy is to bring development in areas where it is lacking. I am talking about proper roads, schools and clinics. The king was also passionate about farming because he wanted his people to have food security,” said Salakuphathwa.

Holomisa said the king would be remembered for speaking out on matters affecting his community. “He represented the Xhosa kingdom very well. He spoke so eloquently about that lack of development in the former Transkei,” Holomisa said.

Chief Xolile Ndevu, who held an advisory role for the Xhosa kingdom, said: “Development was his everyday language. He wanted his nation to prosper.”

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has sent his condolences to the kingdom on behalf of the provincial government.

DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga said: “King Sigcawu was committed to nation building, uplifting the poor and marginalised rural communities of the Eastern Cape and worked towards eradicating poverty and empowering people with skills. He had focused his work in the sectors of education, health, agriculture, heritage and tourism.”

“He will forever remain in our thoughts and memories for his contribution in building a united community. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends as well as the Xhosa Nation,” Bhanga said.

On Saturday amaTshawe, the king’s clan name, would converge at the palace to discuss funeral arrangements, among other things.

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