South Africa

SAPS denies withdrawing protection services for new Zulu king

SAPS denies withdrawing protection services for new Zulu king

The office of police minister Bheki Cele has moved to quash claims that all SAPS officials who had previously been deployed to the Zulu royal palace had been withdrawn.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Brig Vish Naidoo said: “Contrary to recent reports circulating in the mainstream and social media platforms, protection for the royal family in KwaZulu-Natal has not been withdrawn. 

“It is rather unfortunate that information, of such protection being withdrawn, was made public without the SAPS leadership being approached for verification. The royal protection is informed by a threat assessment which is reviewed on an ongoing basis,” Naidoo added. 

The claim that the new king had been left unguarded was made in a statement on Saturday night by prime minister to the Zulu nation Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi who stressed his concern over the safety and wellbeing of King Misuzulu KaZwelithini Zulu.

“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,” said Buthelezi.

“Despite the clear and present danger this poses, I am informed that the brigadier in charge of the SAPS protectors stationed at the palace has confirmed to Advocate Mshololo, who is also present at the palace, that they have been instructed to withdraw. Both the Zulu royal family and the Swati royal family are shocked by this sudden development,” he added.

Buthelezi had called on the nation to assist the royal house in keeping the king safe, adding that this was a critical time.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala however, said tighter police security had been provided for the royals. 

Both Zikalala and the ANC said it seemed Buthelezi was misinformed.

“In fact, there has even been a re-enforcement of security on all the palaces with the tactical response unit (TRT). There will never be any effort to weaken security at the royal palaces of His Majesty the King.  As the government has always done, we shall, at all times, take the responsibility of ensuring the safety and protection of the palaces and their inhabitants, especially His Majesty, the King,” Zikalala said.

The ANC said it was concerned about who had informed Buthelezi of this and the intention behind it.

“The ANC is extremely concerned and deeply troubled by the suspected motive of whoever had advised Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi about the alleged withdrawal of the protection services to His Majesty, King Misizulu KaZwelithini,” the party said in a statement.

“We hope and sincerely trust that the intended agenda is not to create a schism between the ANC-led government and the royal house or His Majesty the King for political expediency. The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal appeals to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi to verify his information, including with the minister of police comrade Bheki Cele before issuing security-related statements to the public,” the party added.

News of the apparent withdrawal of SAPS officials from the palace come at a delicate time within the Zulu kingdom.

This as chaos erupted at the palace on Friday night after the reading of the late Zulu regent, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu's will. The queen died at the age of 65 and was interred during a private ceremony on Thursday morning in her Nongoma palace.

She had, shortly before her death, been announced as regent, as apparently instructed in King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu's last will and testament. The queen, however, died a month after her husband.

In her will, she bequeathed the monarchy to her 46-year-old son, whose name means “strengthening the Zulus”.

After the will reading, another royal family member, Prince Thokozani Zulu, stood up and questioned the recognition of Prince Misuzulu as the queen's heir to the throne. He argued that the king's will did not specify who the regent's successor would be.

Prince Misuzulu had to be whisked away from the meeting shortly after the announcement.

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