Girls at the reed dance

By Biodun Busari

A personal assistant, Dumisani Blasius Khumalo to South Africa’s Zulu king MisuZulu Zulu Kazwelithini has been reportedly killed by gunmen while a traditional ceremony known as reed dance progressed on Saturday.

MisuZulu was crowned as monarch last in August amid opposition within the royal family.

According to AFP, the opponents have threatened and predicted a “bloodbath” if the event held on Saturday where some 10,000 people gathered in the small town of Nongoma, a Zulu stronghold in the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province.

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During the centuries-old ritual, the girls would present themselves to the king of the country’s largest ethnic group, which numbers 11 million Zulus, almost one in five South Africans.

The report revealed that it was the first reed ceremony for King MisuZulu Zulu.

A member of the regional legislature, Sihle Zikalala on Sunday, said, “Khumalo was killed by unknown gunmen last night (Saturday), shortly after attending the Reed Dance in Nongoma.”

Khumalo, the king’s chief advisor, was responsible for settling disputes within the Zulu community.

In South Africa, some communal disputes are settled in traditional courts rather than in a state judicial setting.

“He was very loyal to the royal family and he worked closely with MisuZulu’s father before,” said Khaya Ndwandwe, a Zulu culture expert.

Since the death of Goodwill Zwelithini last year after a reign of 50 years, a row over succession has erupted.

In South Africa, traditional rulers and chiefs are recognised by the constitution and exercise significant moral authority.

MisuZulu kaZwelithini, recognized by President Cyril Ramaphosa, was born to the favourite and third wife of Goodwill Zwelithini.

The first wife challenged the succession in court, which rejected the claim.

The late king’s eldest son, who was born out of wedlock, filed an emergency lawsuit this week claiming he was the rightful heir.

Goodwill Zwelithini’s brothers also claimed the throne for another contender.

At the ceremony Saturday, the new king called for “peace and unity (to) prevail in the royal house.”

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