eNyokeni royal palace gears up to welcome reed dancers

2014-09-02 00:00

IT is all systems go for the 30th Reed Dance this weekend at eNyokeni royal palace in kwaNongoma.

Between 45 000 and 50 000 young women, including groups from Gauteng and Mpumalanga, will make their way to the festival on Friday to present King Goodwill Zwelithini with reed and be addressed by him on Saturday.

The festival organisers have promised stricter measures for the safety of the thousands of maidens.

This is to avoid a recurrence of last year’s accident which claimed the lives of nine maidens and two minders returning home from the festival.

A memorial stone in their honour was unveiled in Umzumbe last week, but the memorial service that was planned at the site of accident for this Friday has been shelved.

Department of Arts and Culture said yesterday they will, together with law enforcement agencies, search all vehicles to ensure that no alcohol is brought to the palace.

Spokesperson Lethuthuka Mtshali said buses and their drivers will be subjected to strict checks to ensure the safety of maidens on their way to and from the reed dance.

Mtshali also said roadblocks would be conducted across the province to check roadworthiness of the 175 buses hired to transport the maidens.

“The buses are expected to have at least one or two relief drivers depending on where the maidens come from. The buses will be subjected to inspections of regular intervals on their trip.”

Mtshali added security has been improved at the royal palace with razor wire installed around the sleeping quarters and access to the royal palace controlled to the maidens and accredited persons.

As part of the build-up to the festival, a careers exhibition and trade fair are being hosted, which will run until the end of the festival on Sunday.

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