Plea for help to lift ban on weddings, funerals

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Residents on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast are pleading with IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to step in and call to order traditional leader inkosi Mpiyezintombi Mzimela for infringing on their constitutional rights.

The residents of the eMazimeleni area at Gingindlovu, near Empangeni, say that, despite the community outcry and Mzimela's denial, the ban on them hosting social and religious events on a Saturday continues.

They said Mzimela prohibits them from burying or marrying on Saturdays because he is a member of the Nazareth Baptist Church, popularly known as Shembe.

Last week Mzimela flatly denied imposing such a ban. The residents have again called on IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to intervene.

Yesterday Sowetan visited two of the areas under Mzimela's jurisdiction, eMazimeleni and Gobandlovu. Every person who spoke to our reporters expressed concern that "the ban not to have weddings, funeral and other events on Saturdays" is in place.

They feared taking their leader on and felt that they "are living in a different country - outside KwaZulu-Natal or South Africa".

Two elderly residents, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of intimidation, said they are opposed to the law imposed on them by Mzimela, but they have no choice but to obey it.

"We have to live with it, we have no choice, it's either you live with it or face the consequences," said one of them.

"Everyone is against it, but they are afraid to challenge or question him. He is one of the most feared traditional leaders in the province. You can't argue with him," she said.

Others said Mzimela had ruled that only a person who died of natural causes and whose family could not afford to take the body to the funeral parlour may be buried on a Saturday.

"Just imagine having to invite your relatives to a wedding that would only last 12 hours and it's done. As black people, our weddings are from Friday until Sunday, but it's not the case here," complained another resident.

"We know of other traditional leaders who are members of the Shembe Church, but they don't impose such laws on their subjects," she said.

"We want IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to intervene. We know he does not condone this and he must help us. He must free us."

Last week the KwaZulu-Natal cabinet said it was concerned about the reports and that such a ban was unconstitutional.