Durban - The disputes within the Zulu royal family appear to be far from over with King Zwelithini’s bereavement offerings being the latest subject.
When the news of King Zwelithini’s death broke, scores of mourners descended to the king’s KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Kwanongoma – some with several cows while others gave cash as a sympathy offering to the bereaved family.
Mourners included politicians from various parties, businesspeople and philanthropists, among others.
A source within the royal family revealed that a total of over R4-million was raised through bereavement offerings and over 3 000 cows were donated.
However, disputes ensued when the offerings were divided among the six palaces of the late king.
The source said the first wife, Queen Sibongile Dlamini of Kwakhethomthandayo Royal Palace, where the king's mourning took place, refused to share the offerings equally.
Instead, she offered other queens a sum of R30 000 and 29 cows each.
This fuelled tensions in the already divided royal family.
Queen Sibongile has also dragged the royal house to court over the king’s estate. As the first wife, she wants to inherit 50% of the late King Zwelithini's estate.
Her two daughters, Princess Ntandoyenkosi and Princess Ntombizosuthu were also contesting the authenticity of their father’s signature on his will.
The matter, which was heard briefly in Pietermaritzburg High Court, last week was adjourned for all respondents to file their application.
The litigation threw a spanner in the works of the new king’s coronation as it became unclear whether the ceremony will go ahead with the pending court action.
Princess Thembi Ndlovu (nee Zulu), a sister of the late king, dismissed the claim that the royal family had received 3 000 cows and R4m during the mourning period.
She would not confirm the sum but confirmed that an undisclosed amount was shared among the queens, and that they each received 29 cows.
“We only received about 300 cows which is a lot and we are grateful for that. As you know, the cows have been looked after by the shepherds who had to be paid. We have been welcoming dignitaries, leaders, regiments and all sorts of groups who had to be cleansed.
“We used the same cows for cleansing and the royal family is not small. Some cows died because they came from different places and could not acclimatise. So people must understand that the offerings have been useful throughout the period,” said Princess Thembi.
She said money had been spent on all the queens, particularly during the king’s passing.
“I am not aware of the millions you are talking about, people contributed whatever they can and we are grateful for that. The queen’s mourning garments were bought with the same money and we covered other expenses. The remaining cash was shared equally and there is no dispute about that.”
Princess Thembi and her brother Prince Mbonisi have been labelled as “royal rebels” allegedly leading the divisions in the royal family, who were also challenging the process used to nominate the new King Misuzulu.
Asked about their motive, Prince Thembi said they had nothing against the new king but they were against the process.
She alleged that the royal family had never met to nominate the successor, saying all the king’s sons must be given an equal opportunity.
“The king has many sons who were born out of different circumstances. As a family we have a role to bring them together and nominate one fit to be a king, their behaviour is not the same,” she added.