Durban - King Goodwill Zwelithini’s son, Prince Nhlanganiso, who fought and beat tuberculosis, on Thursday revealed how the disease had taken its toll on him after he was first diagnosed seven years ago.
The former professional soccer player who is now a TB and HIV/Aids activist took off his shirt to show hundreds of people at the World TB Day commemoration in Durban his scars as a result of the disease.
He found out that he had the disease, which has been described as one of the worst killers, in 2010. Although he did not explain how he contracted the disease, Nhlanganiso said it left his body with irreparable damage as he lost his right lung. “I spent three full months in bed at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital unable to breathe. My breathing level was at 15%.
“TB treatment normally takes six months, but it took me nine months because one of my lungs had collapsed and it had to be removed,” he said.
The scar on his back was as a result of the doctors removing his damaged lung. He said the royal family went through agonising stress, with the king forced to only focus on taking care of him for three months.
The king, deputy president David Mabuza and health minister Aaron Motsoaledi were among the dignitaries who attended the event that was held at the Cato Manor sports field outside Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.
The former AmaZulu Football Club striker said for him to contract TB was a demonstration that the disease did not care about family status.
“Whether you are from a royal family it does not matter when it comes to the disease. Even if you are a deputy president,” he said.
Mabuza said he had been touched by Nhlanganiso’s story, which he said demonstrated how the disease could be defeated although it left irreparable damage.
“You have given TB sufferers a voice, and you have given victims a face. You are a living champion of the fight against the disease. I am very proud of you,” said Mabuza.
Motsoaledi said Durban had been rated one of the worst TB-affected metros in the country, while health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said last year alone there were 22 000 people who were found to have the disease in the province.
The king said for Africa to win the war against the disease, it should unite and prioritise food production instead of civil wars.