News24

King shows off child-bride

2004-05-30 10:09

Durban - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini showed off his teen bride-to-be, Zola Mafu, at the KwaZulu-Natal legislature opening this week.

Stunned spectators and provincial legislature members watched in amazement as the teenager sat quietly, separated by about four royal officials from Zwelithini, 55.

Spectators asked, in whispering tones, if the teenager among the rich and powerful was indeed the much talked about bride-to-be from Swaziland.

However, Zola made no direct contact with Zwelithini. In fact, she was chauffeured in a smaller Mercedes Benz while the king arrived in his official R1m German sedan, with registration ZK 1.

Back home in Swaziland, Zola's parents are excitedly preparing for the day Zwelithini will come to pay lobola and subsequently marry Zola.

The road leading to the Mafu household in Ehluthi, outside the sugar-growing town of Siteki, is being reconstructed and the family has started a local fund-raising trust for the function. But no one knows when Zwelithini will pay lobola.

"We are dealing with the kings here. Their things take time," said Agrippa Mafu, the bride's father.

The Siteki local authority is paying for the construction of a five-kilometre stretch of road. The trust fund has already raised about R527.

"It pleases me that she is in that position [ Zwelithini's possible sixth wife]. She grew up very well. If she has taken good care of herself she deserves good things in life," said Mafu.

He said he last spoke to his younger daughter early last week when she told him that she would be accompanying the king to the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature. Zola told him Zwelithini had not told her when he would pay lobola.

Mafu refused to say how many head of cattle he wants - the matter was being handled by the Mafu family elders. He referred City Press to his eldest brother, who was not available at the time of going to press.

Turning to his daughter, he said: "She told me she was fine. She said she was just calling to see how am I doing."

Zwelithini has been regularly spotted with Zola at official functions. In March she accompanied him to the launch of a public works project at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Durban.

Asked if it was not in breach of Zulu culture for Zwelithini to attend official functions with Zola, Mafu said: "I don't know what is happening there because I'm speaking from a foreign country. I don't know how things are done on that side."

City Press