Talks over bull-killing ritual

2009-11-24 14:21

Pietermaritzburg - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and animal rights activists will meet in Durban on Tuesday to try to resolve a dispute over a bull-killing ritual.

"We have called a meeting of all parties because we believe that this matter can still be resolved out of court," said Pat Mkhize, commissioner for the promotion and protection of the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities.

Animal Rights Africa (ARA) went to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Tuesday to stop the Ukweshwama ritual, scheduled to take place on December 5 at Zwelithini's palace in Nongoma. Ukweshwama is a symbolic way of thanking God for the first crops of the season.

ARA argues the manner in which the bulls are killed is cruel.

The matter was postponed to December 1 to allow Zwelithini and other respondents to file their papers. The other respondents are the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize and the province's MEC for local government, housing and traditional affairs Nomusa Dube.

Resolve it amicably

"We want to make sure that this matter is resolved amicably. All parties have agreed to attend the meeting and we are optimistic that the meeting will be fruitful," Mkhize said.

He said his commission was a Chapter 9 institution and could summon the affected parties to a negotiating table.

Tuesday's brief court proceeding was attended by the Zulu king's representatives, numerous journalists and supporters of the ritual.

Speaking after the case was postponed, Zwelithini's spokesperson Nhlanhla Mtaka said the ritual would continue as planned.

"The king believes that Ukweshwama will continue as planned because it is part of our culture. They (ARA) are talking about animal rights and we are also using Chapter 2 of the Constitution that protects cultures."

Cruelty claims

During the Ukweshwama ritual, ARA said, men pulled out the bull's tongue, stuffed sand in its mouth and also attempted to tie its penis in a knot.

Mtaka said ARA's opposition to Ukweshwama was based on ignorance.

"We invite them to come and see it so that they can learn more."

Those who supported the ritual said they would back the king to ensure it was not abolished.

"We have been doing this for years. Our forefathers also did it. Why should we stop now? White people must stop interfering in our culture," said Petros Zondi.