Durban - King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu has died.
He was 73 years old.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former leader of the IFP and the king’s traditional prime minister made the announcement on Friday.
The king was admitted to hospital last month after his glucose levels shot up.
“It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation,” a statement by Buthelezi said.
“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.
“On behalf of the the Royal Family we thank the nation for your continues prayers and support in this most difficult time. May His Majesty our King rest in peace,” Buthelezi said.
Later in the day Buthelezi said that the king was expected to return to his main palace on Friday afternoon where he will lie in state for a couple of days.
”For now the king’s body will be conveyed to the palace hopefully this afternoon where we hope he will lie in state for a couple of days,” Buthelezi said in his brief address.
While the monarch had several palaces, he lived in the Osuthu Royal Palace in KwaNongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Buthelezi warned mourners visiting the king’s palaces to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.
King Zwelithini was admitted to a KwaZulu-Natal hospital last month after his glucose levels had shot up unexpectedly raising concerns for his doctors.
He was admitted to ICU where he had been closely monitored.
As the constitutional monarch of the kingdom of KwaZulu-Natal, he is head of the Ubukhosi, the state-recognized institution of Traditional Leadership that consists of local chiefs.
His leadership role also entails chairmanship of the Usuthu Tribal Authority and Nongoma Regional Authority, both established under the provisions of the KwaZulu Amakhosi and Iziphakanyiswa Act.