IFP founder Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Thursday dismissed “false” and “cruel” rumours that ailing King Goodwill Zwelithini had died.
On Wednesday night rumours were rife on social media that the king had died after a battle with diabetes at a private hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
The king was admitted to ICU on Sunday after “several unstable glucose readings”.
“Since the announcement of His Majesty the King’s visit to hospital on Sunday, I and those close to the king have been inundated with calls, seeking an update,” said Buthelezi, who is also traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch and nation.
“This is understandable considering the respect that so many have for the king.
“However, several false rumours have also begun circulating that His Majesty’s health is being kept a secret, and even, most cruelly, that His Majesty is no more.
“I wish to allay the concerns of the nation regarding these fables.
“His Majesty entered hospital to attend to high glucose levels. He was not, and is still not, frail in any way. Even this morning, he is fully mobile and is continuing treatment for unstable glucose. His doctors preferred that he be treated in ICU in order to attend to this thoroughly.
“One wonders what kind of people would start such cruel false rumours that His Majesty has passed, when he is most certainly alive.
“It has inflicted tremendous pain on the royal family and on all those who wish the king of the Zulu nation well.
“Unfortunately, such grossly irresponsible behaviour has been seen before.”
Buthelezi said he too was recently declared dead.
“Even I myself have been declared dead while I am still alive, once by no less than a senior SABC journalist.
“In the age of social media, false news is disseminated like wildfire. One can only hope that those who report the news on official channels would have the discernment to treat such serious matters on the basis of fact.”
By Suthentira Govender