Zulu king takes flight after clash with his uncle

THE South African media got itself into a ferment after reports from the Zulu royal palace that King Goodwill Zwelithini and six of his family had been spotted boarding an army helicopter on Thursday afternoon.

Coming at the end of a week when relations between the king and his uncle, Inkatha leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, revived memories of the Shah of Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini, such excitement was understandable.

The king only deepened the speculation when he spoke darkly on Thursday night's television news about 'certain elements' having 'stabbed him in the back'. He denied he was on the run.

The mystery was partly resolved yesterday by sources close to the royal family who told the Independent that the king was suffering from 'nervous tension' and had flown to Johannesburg to see a specialist recommended by Nelson Mandela. The helicopter had been provided at President Mandela's request.

Just how serious the king's illness was remained unclear but what appeared beyond doubt was that his condition had been brought on during his encounter on Monday with Mr Mandela and Mr Buthelezi at his palace in Nongoma. As the three leaders spoke, Mr Buthelezi's supporters were shouting insults at Mr Mandela, stoning his helicopter and acclaiming Mr Buthelezi with the Zulu greeting traditionally reserved only for the king: 'Bayete' meaning 'Hail' or 'Greatness'.

Mr Buthelezi, who is home affairs minister in Mr Mandela's government of national unity, told parliament in Cape Town on Thursday that the king had broken down and started bleeding during the meeting.

It was in the bitter aftermath of the unseemly events at Nongoma that the king announced the severing of all ties with his uncle and the cancellation of this weekend's annual Shaka Day ceremony. Mr Buthelezi's decision to press ahead with the festivities would have done little to improve the king's condition.

African National Congress leaders in KwaZulu-Natal have said that what Inkatha will do today is traduce the name of Shaka, the founder of the Zulu nation, by relegating his day to the status of 'an Inkatha function'. The army will be on standby in case of trouble and Mr Buthelezi has sent the king two cows in atonement for the behaviour of his supporters.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Male Behaviour Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

BA/PM,EMIR/Dodd-Frank,London,£450-650P/D

£450 - £650 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

SEN Learning Support Assistant vacancy in Penarth

£55 - £65 per day + Travel Scheme and Free Training: Randstad Education Cardif...

Key stage 1 and 2 teachers required for the Vale of Glamorgan

£90 - £110 per day + Travel Scheme & Free Training: Randstad Education Cardiff...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz