Jaw-dropping life of Zulu King is blamed for sparking South African bloodshed by branding immigrants ‘lice’ A palace for each of his six wives and £155,000 just on military uniforms for his 28 children The Zulu king blamed for sparking the violence against foreigners which has seen South Africa’s streets turn into battlefields running with blood over the past two weeks is no stranger to scandal.
It was just a couple of years ago that King Goodwill Zwelithini – who last month said foreigners should ‘pack their belongings’ and leave – labelled homosexuals as ‘rotten’.
The dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist has also courted the wrath of women’s rights and HIV/Aids campaigners for his hardline stance on controversial traditional virginity testing.
King Zwelithini resurrected the outdated custom, in the face of widespread opposition, by claiming it helped the country’s fight against HIV/Aids.
But more recently, there was the revelation that he was bankrupt – despite the 54million rand (£3million) handed to him from the South African government to keep the 67-year-old, his six wives and 28 children in the style to which they are accustomed.
And, as a man who likes to spend more on his birthday cake than many of his subjects earn in a lifetime, it is quite some lifestyle.
While King Zwelithini continues to enjoy all the trappings of his royal status, South African authorities arrested 11 men in Johannesburg late on Tuesday suspected of involvement in violence against immigrants, local television news reported.
The men were held during a joint raid by the police and army on a Johannesburg hostel.
A wave of anti-immigrant violence has so far claimed seven lives in trouble spots in Durban and Johannesburg, to where the government announced the deployment of defence forces on Tuesday.
A speech given by the King in Durban last month, denouncing foreigners as ‘ants’ and ‘lice’ who should leave the country, has been blamed for sparking the violence.
The hellish scenes across townships in South Africa are a far cry from King Zwelithini’s opulent marriage to his sixth wife Zola Mafu, a 28-year-old princess from the neighbouring kingdom of Swaziland, in July, which included a marquee, catering and flowers for 5,000 invited guests.
According to South Africa’s Sunday Times, the monarch paid out more than £55,000 on catering, around £10,000 on a sound system and £15,000 on decorations and flowers.
In total, the extravaganza, attended by 5,000 people, cost an estimated £250,000.
Maintaining all six wives, their children and grandchildren in separate palaces, with generous allowances, private school fees and a retinue of personal staff, requires substantial funding, according to reports.
And he decided they all needed new, imported military regalia to wear to the opening of KwaZulu Natal’s state legislature later this year – at the not insignificant price of £155,000, the Times claimed.
But that is not to say the King, who became leader of South Africa’s biggest tribal group aged just 20 in 1968, does not have previous form on exorbitant expenditure.
In 2012, King Zwelithini asked for half a million pounds for a new palace for Queen Mafu – as well as an extra million pounds on fifth wife Queen MaMchiza’s home, in Nongoma, which boasts five royal residences.
Four years before, the royal family had come under fire for spending more than £16,000 on linen.
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