Don't touch me on my shield

2011-08-03 00:00

UKHOZI FM DJ Ngizwe Mchunu has initiated a R10 million lawsuit against Customs, the department of Agriculture and King Shaka International Airport for damages.

The whopping claim comes after Ngizwe, who hosts a cultural segment on the station, returned from a Dubai trip in May and was accosted by customs officials at King Shaka International Airport because he had his traditional shield among his luggage.

Representing Mchunu legally is attorney Mbuyiselo July and associate Philani Mkhize, who spoke on his client’s behalf.

“My client’s luggage was rummaged through at which point they found the shield.

“Officials informed him that the shield was ‘rubbish’ and was going to be thrown away because it may be contaminated with ‘foot and mouth disease’,” said Mkhize.

The shield, which is aligned with traditional Zulu custom, was then apparently thrown onto the floor before sniffer dogs were set upon it, and then confiscated.

Mchunu was being hosted by Dubai’s tourism department as an ambassador for Zulu culture and according to Mkhize, was in full Zulu attire on his visit there.

“Our client’s shield and skins were declared and accepted by authorities in Dubai, it was only here in Durban that he encountered a problem,” said Mkhize.

Legal representatives from all concerned parties appeared at the Durban Magistrate Court yesterday and were asked to return on August 24 with the necessary documentation in place for trial to resume.

Outside the court Ngizwe’s supporters, clad in traditional animal skins, brandished spears and shields, and sang Zulu war songs before observing a prayer to ask the ancestors to lead Ngizwe to victory.

Dr Elliot Ndlovu, a sangoma and traditional healer, described the incident as an indictment on Zulu tradition and that it is a landmark case where and example needs to be set.

“The spear or ‘Ihawu’ is symbolic of protection and is something as South Africans we should respect.

“Had this happened elsewhere in the world, one could understand the ignorance — but its happened at an airport named after our greatest leaders King Shaka, it’s disgraceful.”

King Shaka International Airport spokesperson Collin Pillay said he was aware of the incident, but declined to comment.

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