South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday mourned Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini who passed away earlier in the day while receiving treatment for diabetes.
The death was confirmed by Inkatha Freedom Party leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi who said the king succumbed to his ailment in the early hours of Friday.
“Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty’s health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away in the early hours of this morning,” said Buthelezi who was the king’s prime minister.
One of South Africa’s most powerful traditional leaders, the king, 72, was admitted to the intensive care unit of a private hospital last month after “several unstable glucose readings”.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the late king as a visionary and a unifier.
“His Majesty will be remembered as a much-loved, visionary monarch who made an important contribution to cultural identity, national unity and economic development in KwaZulu-Natal and through this, to the development of our country as a whole,” Ramaphosa said.
King Goodwill Zwelithini has ruled the Zulu nation following the death of his father in 1968 but his role was largely ceremonial.