Views vary as Buthelezi is remembered for his leadership role

‘He was all about community development and bettering people’s lives’

11 September 2023 - 07:27
By Patience Bambalele
IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Image: THULI DLAMINI IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi

While traditional leaders who worked with late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi over the years praised him as a unifier an expert says the former IFP leader was indirectly responsible for political killings that occurred decades ago.

The IFP has been accused of the murders of thousands of people in the 1980s and 1990s in Kathorus (Katlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus), Soweto and other areas.

University of KwaZulu-Natal expert in Zulu culture and heritage Prof Sihawu Ngubane said: “He was responsible indirectly because he was a leader and sometimes when you are a leader, there are tough decisions that you have to take.

“When you are at war some people will die and lose their lives. So, apartheid caused friction among African people by dividing them. That is why you find that in the 1980s there was this black-on-black violence, which is regrettable at the moment. You see that the killings happened because we were divided by the apartheid regime hence the dark cloud of this leadership and the decisions that he took at the time.”  

Induna Zakhele Buthelezi from Mahlabathini in KwaZulu-Natal said: “I really do not want to comment on something which I don’t have proof of. There is no truth or proof that links Prince Buthelezi to that [killings]. 

“Shenge was proud of the Zulu culture and made sure everyone upholds it. As you can see, he died on a very important day in the Zulu culture, which is the reed dance. As Izinduna in the area we have learnt a lot from him. He stood for the truth no matter what. In terms of development, he built schools, universities and parliament in KZN because he was all about community development and bettering people’s lives.” 

Skhumbuzo Mkhize, who is also based in Mahlabathini, wants Buthelezi to be remembered as a leader who stood for the truth and honesty.

“He was a backbone in terms of keeping the culture and Zulu traditions. He played a big role in the lives of the three Zulu kings because he was that fountain of wisdom. He was very straightforward. If something was wrong, he called it out.  I will remember him for his knowledge of Amahubo. He was a moving dictionary when it comes to Zulu cultural history. Our job is to continue with his legacy and teachings.” 

Mangosuthu University of Technology which was founded by Buthelezi, defined the political leader as a mentor, friend, philanthropist and father to many South Africans.  

“He meant so many things to so many people. Our thoughts and prayers are with his immediate family and children. His passing has come as a shock to all of us because just last week we rejoiced when he was discharged from hospital and he rejoined his beloved family.

“The community of Mangosuthu University of Technology is in grief. On Sunday, 27 August, the staff and students of Mangosuthu University of Technology celebrated his birthday on our MUT Radio, not knowing that the birthday messages he was receiving were to be his last.”