King's 'xenophobic comments' lost in translation

Jonathan Erasmus, The Witness

Durban - The Royal Household Trust has defended King Goodwill Zwelithini over allegations that he made xenophobic comments, claiming his meaning was lost in translation.

Trust chairperson Judge Jerome Ngwenya said on Tuesday the king has “no issue with foreign nationals”.

The king had been a guest of Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko at a meeting on moral regeneration on March 15 when, according to Isolezwe, he is alleged to have said in Zulu: “We urge all foreigners to pack their bags and leave.”

An attack on Congolese residents in Isipingo on Sunday was allegedly committed by residents claiming they were acting on the instruction of the king.

Reported to SAHRC

The king’s alleged xenophobic comment has been reported to the SA Human Rights Commission.

“I understand the king departed from his prepared speech and lamented the weakness in the policing of the country’s borders. He said this has led to the country being a haven for illegal immigrants who violate and undermine the country’s laws. He then urged the police... to catch those who violate the country’s laws... and return them to whence they come,” said Ngwenya.

He said they found “nothing offensive about this or xenophobic”.

“We note that according to reports the media has a clip of the recording from which the alleged xenophobic comments are extracted. We hope this recording will be presented to the commission.”

No problem with foreign nationals

Ngwenya said the king had no problem with any foreign nationals, regardless of their country of origin.

Ngwenya, who also heads the Ingonyama Trust Board, an organisation that manages the king’s land in the province, said he does not believe the media has an agenda against the Royal Household.

“Maybe this [incorrect translations] is a learning curve on how we engage in the future.”

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