The Zulu nation’s traditional prime minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has expressed concern for the safety of the newly named King Misuzulu kaZwelithini after the South African Police Service (SAPS) started withdrawing its VIP protection.
The new king is the son of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and the recently departed Zulu Queen Regent Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, sister to King Mswati III of Eswatini.
In a statement just before midnight on Saturday, Buthelezi said the government had not communicated the decision to the royal family but police officers stationed at the palace confirmed their imminent withdrawal. Said Buthelezi:
I am deeply distressed by news coming from KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace that members of the SAPS VIP Protection Unit have just been instructed to withdraw. They will therefore no longer provide security for His Majesty the King.
It is understood that those at the Palace will withdraw tonight, while those providing security where His Majesty will be staying tonight, will withdraw in the morning.
Neither I nor His Majesty the King, nor any other member of the Royal Family, have been informed of this decision by Government.
Nevertheless, members of the SAPS stationed at the Palace have received these instructions from the Provincial Commissioner, purportedly on the basis that His Majesty has not yet been installed by Government and is thus not entitled to VIP protection.
The police’s move comes despite indications that the new king is facing threats as his naming on Friday evening was challenged by some princes and he had to be whisked away to safety by an assault rifle-wielding security personnel.
The new king was whisked to Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) around March 14 this year, two days after the passing of his father.
In his statement, last night Buthelezi appealed to the Zulu nation to intervene as it has become clear that the new king’s life is in danger.