Zwelithini, the Zulu king of South Africa, dies at the age of 72 | Obituaries

The monarch, who ascended to the throne in 1971, was admitted to hospital weeks ago for treatment for diabetes.

The controversial but revered Zulus king of South Africa, Goodwill Zwelithini, has died at the age of 72 after spending weeks in hospital for diabetes treatment, his palace has announced.

The king wielded great influence among millions of Zulus through his largely ceremonial and spiritual role, although he had no official power in modern South Africa.

“It is with the greatest sorrow that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini… King of the Zulu Nation,” the palace said in a statement signed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a powerful veteran politician who is also a Zulu prince.

The king was admitted to hospital last month with diabetes.

“Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty’s health worsened and he subsequently died in the wee hours of this morning,” the statement said.

“On behalf of the Royal Family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support during this most difficult time.”

Born in Nongoma, a small town in the southeast of Kwa-Zulu Natal province, Zwelithini ascended to the throne in 1971 during the apartheid era at the age of 23, three years after the death of his father.

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