Video by Sihle Mavuso
Nongoma – The battle for the use of the historic eNyokeni royal palace in Nongoma to host the annual Zulu reed dance took an unexpected turn on Friday when members of the royal family supporting Prince Simakade were violently kicked out of the venue.
This happened around 6pm when a group of royal family members who are close to King Misuzulu confronted them, resulting in slaps, insults and violent shoving during the brief confrontation that nearly turned nasty.
It all started when Prince Mandlakapheli, who speaks for Prince Simakade, led a media contingent to the gates of the palace to address them over the issue of the cultural ceremony.
During his address, Prince Mandlakapheli insisted that as they had said early this week, there would be no reed dance at the venue and they “were prepared to die to stop it”.
“There won’t be any dancing here. We heard some saying they are coming here… well, that is not going to happen,” he said before he was cut short by the visibly angry and advancing group.
BREAKING NEWS: Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Zulu monarch's traditional prime minister has dismissed a government memo saying the annual reed dance has been moved to KwaKhangalemankengane palace. He says the cultural ceremony will go ahead at eNyokeni palace as planned. @IOL pic.twitter.com/cmWVoQP8Ea— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) September 16, 2022
As he was taking questions, a group of men, mainly royal family members, emerged from the palace and confronted him.
One of the men was shouting, saying: “What is happening here? Who are these people here? This is the house of (King) Dinizulu!”
During that heated confrontation, the media was spared but asked to stop recording and step aside.
It was during that brief moment that a hot slap was unleashed on one of the supporters of Prince Simakade.
Armed SAPS officers, who were caught off guard as they sat at a distance, sprung into action to separate them.
With guns and pepper sprays drawn by SAPS members, calm was promptly restored and the verbal confrontation died down.
PICS: The set up at eNyokeni palace in Nongoma right now as maidens arrive in their numbers for the annual Zulu reed dance. It appears that the memo saying the cultural ceremony has been moved to KwaKhangalemankengane palace is a result of miscommunication. @IOL pic.twitter.com/U7efFPFtUB— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) September 16, 2022
The unidentified royal family member who was slapped told the police that he wanted to open a case of assault. He was asked to point out the person who assaulted him, but he couldn’t do so.
Prince Simakade and King Misuzulu, both of whom are fighting over the Zulu throne, weren’t present at the palace when the confrontation took place.
The king and his traditional prime minister and other senior members of the Zulu royal family are expected to arrive at the palace today and preside over the annual ceremony that attracts about 15 000 maidens and guests.
The debate over the hosting of the ceremony there started when royal family members who have installed Prince Simakade as their “king” warned of “bloodshed” if the event was held there.
According to them, eNyokeni is the seat of power for Prince Simakade and out of bounds to King Misuzulu whom they don’t recognise as their king.
Meanwhile, amid the confusion caused by the government memo, Zulu maidens were arriving in their numbers on Friday at the palace to prepare for the main dance on Saturday.
By 7pm on Friday night, about 2 000 of them had already arrived and camped in big white marquees pitched on the arena of the dance which cost the government millions to build.
More buses and taxis were still bringing in excited maidens while unbothered hawkers were still setting up their stalls to sell food and traditional wear.
Emergency personnel from the Department of Health and those from private companies were spotted moving around to ensure that anyone with medical difficulties was helped.
A grader from the Department of Public Works was still busy clearing more space for hawkers and maidens to set up stalls and marquees to camp ahead of the big day.