Bull-killing meeting boycotted
Pietermaritzburg - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini on Tuesday boycotted a meeting called to discuss the controversial issue of bare-handed bull killing.
"We hold a view that if there was to be a meeting to discuss customs and culture, all cultural groups should be invited," said Zwelithini's spokesperson Nhlanhla Mtaka.
The meeting was convened by Pat Mkhize, commissioner for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities, to resolve a dispute over a bull-killing ritual.
He called the meeting after Animal Rights Africa (ARA) went to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Tuesday to stop the Ukweshwama 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 argues that the manner in which bulls are killed during the ritual is cruel.
It has claimed 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 brief court hearing on Tuesday was attended by the Zulu king's representatives, journalists and supporters of the ritual.
The matter was postponed to December 1 to allow Zwelithini and other respondents to file their papers.
Mtaka said that if the commission was interested in discussing issues of culture, it needed to call all cultural groups.
"We see no reason why Zulus should be singled out when there are so many cultural groups in South Africa who have cultural ceremonies," he said.
The Zulu Royal Household said the so-called "mediators" had no purpose.
"What are they going to mediate? In as far as we are concerned the ukweshwama ceremony is going ahead as planned."
'Rights' group arrogant, ignorant'
Mtaka described the Tuesday meeting as a kangaroo court which would not be tolerated by the Zulus.
"We cannot accept the situation whereby the Zulu culture is challenged and is put under unnecessary scrutiny and criticism," he said.
ARA and people who supported its (ARA) court bid were not only arrogant, but also ignorant.
"We believe that this group (ARA) is doing this because it wants to be popular.
"We have also noticed that they are very ignorant. They don't know what this ceremony is all about and how it is conducted."
Mtaka said ARA had been invited several times in the past ten years to attend the ceremony but did not.
Although he was upset by the court challenge, Mtaka was happy that ARA had indirectly promoted the ceremony by putting it in the media.
Speaking after the meeting on Tuesday, Mkhize said it had gone "okay", but he refused to discuss its resolutions.
"We will issue a statement early tomorrow (Wednesday). The king's decision to boycott the meeting did not affect the outcome of the meeting," he said.
Speaking before the meeting, Mkhize said his commission felt that it was possible the dispute would be settled out of court.
"We have called a meeting of all parties because we believe that this matter can still be resolved out of court," he said.
The other respondents are the 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.
Mkhize said his commission was a Chapter Nine institution and could summon the affected parties to a negotiating table.