Animal rights group unhappy after Zulu king’s snub

2009-11-25 11:18

Animal Rights Africa (ARA) today said it was disappointed by Zulu

King Goodwill Zwelithini’s decision to boycott a meeting called to discuss a

bare-handed, bull-killing ritual.

“Sadly, it appears that the king remains unwilling to enter into

any dialogue or mediation and is clearly not prepared to support the efforts of

the commission,” the organisation’s Steve Smit said.

Yesterday’s meeting was convened by Pat Mkhize, commissioner for

the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic

communities, to try and resolve a dispute over the Ukweshwama ritual.

Mkhize called the meeting after ARA went to the Pietermaritzburg

High Court yesterday in a bid to stop the ritual, scheduled to take place on

December 5 at Zwelithini’s palace in Nongoma.

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

the season.

ARA, which argues the ritual is cruel, had agreed to attend the

meeting hoping the matter would be settled out of court, said Smit.

“We agreed to the meeting in the hope of reaching some kind of

amicable agreement that would result in the suspension of the bull-killing event

at this year’s Nongoma festival.”

Zwelithini’s spokesman Nhlanhla Mataka said they didn’t go to the

meeting because they felt it was not necessary.

“We hold a view that if there was to be a meeting to discuss

customs and culture, all cultural groups should be invited. Why single out

Zulus?” he said on yesterday.

The respondents in the case are the king, Minister of Co-operative

Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka, Minister of Police Nathi

Mthethwa, KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize and the province’s MEC for local

government, housing and traditional affairs Nomusa Dube.

The ARA argues that during the Ukweshwama ritual, men pull out the

bull’s tongue, stuff sand in its mouth and try to tie its penis in a knot.

The Zulu Royal Household has vowed to go ahead with the ceremony,

even if the court rules against it.

ARA was acting in the interests of an animal who would die in a

manner which contravened the Animal Protection Act, the National Environmental

Management Act, and the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, he said.

Mkhize said the commission was expected to issue a statement later

today.


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