Ndebele urges police to probe grave desecration

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sbu Ndebele, pictured, has urged police in the province to thoroughly investigate and bring to book those responsible for vandalising the grave of Maqhamisela Khanyile.

Khanyile was the first Zulu Christian martyr. He was killed for choosing Christianity in 1877.

Khanyile had been an active member of the Zulu armies.

However, upon hearing the teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Eshowe, he became a Christian and gave up his life as a warrior.

This angered his peers who killed him on March 9, 1877.

On March 11 2007 the KwaZulu-Natal government, together with the Eastern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, commemorated 130 years of Khanyile's death.

A delegation from Norway, which represented the missionary society which had first baptised Khanyile, was also present.

"This grave has international significance and the desecration of this nature will put South Africa's proud record of heritage conservation in jeopardy.

"The grave is one of several heritage initiatives that the provincial government has undertaken over the past five years," said Ndebele.

"It was with great shock and horror that I learnt that the grave of Maqhamisela Khanyile had been desecrated.

"What is even more disturbing is that a high-ranking government official from northern KwaZulu-Natal has been directly implicated in the vandalising of this heritage site," added Ndebele.