D-day as court decides on Zulu ritual

KING Goodwill Zwelithini's office yesterday said it was optimistic that the court would rule in its favour in the controversial issue of bare-handed bull killing.

KING Goodwill Zwelithini's office yesterday said it was optimistic that the court would rule in its favour in the controversial issue of bare-handed bull killing.

"We view this court challenge as nothing but religious persecution of the Zulu people and Nguni tribe in general," said Zwelithini's spokesperson, Nhlanhla Mtaka.

Animal Rights Africa (ARA) will be in the Pietermaritzburg high court today to stop the ukweshwama ritual, scheduled to take place on Saturday at Zwelithini's palace in Nongoma.

The king's lawyers and other respondents were expected to file their papers yesterday or early today.

There is some urgency in the case since the clock is ticking and the organisers of the ceremony have just a few days to prepare.

Ukweshwama is a symbolic way of thanking God for the first crops of the season.

The ARA argues that the manner in which bulls are killed in the ritual is cruel.

Mtaka said preparations for the ceremony were going ahead, saying the animal group took the matter on to gain publicity.

"We view this as nothing but a publicity stunt aimed at donations.," Mtaka said. "It would be interesting to see how many donations they received after taking the matter to the media."

He said people would start arriving at the palace tomorrow to prepare for the ceremony. The king last Tuesday boycotted a meeting convened by Pat Mkhize, commissioner for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities, to resolve the dispute.

The meeting was only attended by ARA representatives. The other respondents in the case are the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and the province's MEC for local government, housing and traditional affairs, Nomusa Dube.

The ARA was not immediately available for comment. - Sapa

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