Xhosa king calls for British apology

2013-01-06 10:00

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The motion was raised with President Jacob Zuma in December

Xhosa King Mpendulo Sigcawu wants Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, her family and members of her government to travel to his Nqandu Great Place to apologise for the 1835 killing of his ancestor, King Hintsa.

His spokesperson Zolani Mkhiva confirmed to City Press that the motion was officially put before President Jacob Zuma on December 11, while he was accepting the Hintsa Bravery Award from King Sigcawu.

Zuma described the award, named after Hintsa – who was killed by British troops – as his most prestigious yet.

Mkhiva said King Sigcawu officially raised the matter with Zuma so that his government could help facilitate a meeting during which Queen Elizabeth and her government could apologise to the Xhosa people for the atrocities committed by her country’s troops and the brutal murder of King Hintsa.

“They must come to Nqadu Great Place?.?.?. we are not demanding this apology but want Queen Elizabeth II to say sorry to the people they have sinned against. We will welcome them,” said Mkhiva, former president Nelson Mandela’s poet and praise singer.

“We want to reconcile with the British and relate to them and find closure. But they need to pronounce on this matter and reconcile.”

Mkhiva said it was not the first time they had asked for an apology.

Late King Xolilizwe Sigcawu made similar requests to former president Thabo Mbeki.

Harry Smith, a 19th century British army commander, is believed to have ordered the killing of the unarmed King Hintsa during the Frontier Wars.

The AmaXhosa also said they wanted an inquest into the matter and asked Zuma for help.

Mkhiva said the king was happy that Zuma had undertaken to help the AmaXhosa find closure.

In his speech, Zuma paid tribute to the late king, calling him a warrior while chastising the British for their part in his death.

Gary Benham, spokesperson for the British High Commission in South Africa, said: “The UK government deeply regrets the suffering experienced during the Frontier Wars, in which King Hintsa’s death was a particularly tragic incident.”

Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj said he was waiting for a response regarding the king’s request from the relevant people in the presidency before he could comment.

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