The Zulu king has appealed for peace and an end to the riots that he said were bringing shame to South Africa’s largest ethnic group.
“It paints a picture of a people who have lost their dignity – what is even more saddening, so many of those drawn to this lawlessness and criminality are members of the Zulu nation,” said King Misuzulu Zulu – who has been chosen as successor to the Zulu throne after the deaths earlier this year of his father, Goodwill Zwelithini, and his regent mother, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu.
“It has brought great shame upon us all, as fingers are pointed at my father’s people,” he said in a speech on state television.
“I never thought after the tragic passing of my parents that I would see our own people so complicit and burning down the country.”
Days of unrest and looting were sparked by last week’s jailing of former President Jacob Zuma, who is a Zulu. KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces have mainly been affected by the violence.
King Misuzulu, who has yet to be officially enthroned because of a feud over the succession, said he understood the depression born of poverty and unemployment which had led people to join the chaos.
“But I must appeal to all of us to take a great step back and consider the damage that is being done by our own actions.
“When food cannot be delivered because trucks and warehouses are being burnt by our people, we will go hungry… Vital supply chains have been damaged and it is our very own families that will suffer.
“My father’s people are committing suicide,” the 46-year-old said.
“I appeal to the Zulu nation to withdraw from their participation in the destruction of our country South Africa, I appeal for calm, for peace to be restored.”
The head of the royal Zulu family also appealed for peace between KwaZulu-Natal’s Zulu and Indian communities – many Asians own businesses in the province that have been targeted by looters.
“What is happening between the Zulus and Indians, it must come to an end. Our Indian brothers are our closest neighbours… we have the second biggest population of Indians in KwaZulu-Natal outside of India.
“So I appeal to everyone [that] we embrace the Indians because we share our land with the Indians.”
The new monarch also faced some flak on Twitter for the shaky start to his speech – which he began reading in Zulu but after several missteps and confusion, he switched to reading in English.
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