JOHANNESBURG, March 12 — South Africa’s Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuZulu passed away Friday morning.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Inkatha Freedom Party founder and Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu Monarchy and Nation, confirmed the news in a statement issued Friday morning.
“It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty,” Buthelezi said in the statement.
Buthelezi said the king’s health worsened after being admitted to an intensive care unit in a private hospital recently.
“Tragically, while still in the hospital, his majesty health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away,” he said.
Buthelezi thanked the people for their continued support and prayers provided to the family.
“On behalf of the Royal Family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers in this difficult time.”
King Zwelithini was born on July 14, 1948, in KwaZulu-Natal. He was appointed to the throne after his father’s death in 1968 when he was just a 20-year-old student at the time. He made history as the longest-serving monarch of the Zulu Kingdom — with a reign spanning over five decades.