Zulu bull ritual get go ahead

2009-12-05 10:44


TOMORROW’S celebrations of the Zulu people’s First Harvest

festivity is expected to go ahead without any hindrances following the decision

by the Pietermaritzburg High Court not to grant an interdict to have the

slaughter of a bull stopped.

The application was brought to the court by the Animal Rights

Africa (ARA) Trust, which wanted the court to order Zulu king Goodwill

Zwelithini not to allow the killing of the bull by warriors with bare


The bull-killing ritual is part of an annual ceremony known as

Ukweshwama, which marks the official period in which the king’s subject can

harvest their produce.

According to evidence presented before the court the

ritual is performed for purposes of religious purification and to strengthen the


The ARA argued that the ritual was cruel to animals.

Delivering his judgement at the high court Judge Nic van der Rayden

ruled in favour of the Zulu monarch, saying the “balance of convenience”

favoured the practitioners of the custom.

He also said the animal rights group had relied on hearsay evidence

and had not obtained any evidence from eyewitnesses to back its claim that the

killing of the bull was “shockingly gruesome”.

“Should the killing of the bull be interdicted and adhered to by

the persons responsible the symbolic transfer of power to the king of the Zulu

nation would be prevented.

The king would therefore be disempowered albeit

symbolically and the Zulu nation left with a powerless king,” the judge


“Common sense dictates and having regard to the history of the Zulu

nation, especially that of the pre and colonial eras, granting an interdict to

stop the killing of the bull and ordering the minister of police to ensure that

effect is given to the interdict might be the proverbial match under the powder


The judge proposed that the best way for the parties to resolve

their disagreement was to approach the relevant authorities to resolve the


“Hopefully parliament would intervene with a view to putting this

issue to rest,” he said

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