Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini used his 72nd birthday celebration to plead with the province’s residents to ensure that KwaZulu-Natal did not become the next Covid-19 epicentre as forecast by scientists and political leaders in the past few days.
He said that should this become a reality, the effects on the province would be disastrous.
By Sunday, KZN had recorded 64602 Covid-19 cases and more than 600 deaths, making it the fourth most affected province countrywide.
Despite these fears, the king also lauded the government’s efforts to try to contain the virus. He said the first stages of the lockdown were able to control the spread to small rural towns by carriers from major urban centres.
However, he noted that Covid-19 had started spreading in the province the moment the lockdown was relaxed.
During his speech, which was delivered virtually from KwaLinduzulu palace in Nongoma, the king said he had wanted to celebrate the day at his Machobeni palace in Ngwavuma, near the South Africa-Eswatini border.
However, taking into account that the country was battling the Covid-19 pandemic, he shelved the plans.
“This virus affects all of us, it does not look at your race, your age and what position you hold. We all know that not long ago, the virus struck the royal household. It is doing the same to politicians, religious leaders, business people and the media,” the king said.
He also used the opportunity to salute the “brave health workers” who were at the forefront of the Covid-19 battle. He said the least people could do to help health workers was to stay at home.
The king has been on the throne for 49 years after his 1971 coronation at the age of 21. He is the longest-reigning Zulu king in the history of the nation.