Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini passed on in the early hours of Friday morning. He was 73.
In a statement, the Zulu traditional Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, said: “It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of his Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu.
“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 royal family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time.”
Zwelithini had been admitted to a hospital for diabetes treatment since early February.
“Over the past few weeks, several unstable glucose readings have raised concern, and His Majesty was required to visit a hospital in Zululand to attend to this.
“Unfortunately the problem did not fully resolve, and His Majesty has had to return to hospital to stabilise his glucose levels once again. His doctors have felt it necessary to place him in ICU to deal with this thoroughly.”
At the time, Buthelezi said the situation was of particular concern, due to the risk that diabetes poses as a comorbidity during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
He had also stressed that the king was receiving the necessary care, and that health minister Zweli Mkhize was aware of the situation.
Early last year, Zwelithini did not attend the KwaZulu-Natal State of the Province Address due to ill health. Premier Sihle Zikalala said at the time that the king was not well due to an undisclosed illness.