Durban - King Goodwill Zwelithini played a pivotal role in ensuring peaceful relations between the African and Indian communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Businessman Vivian Reddy, whose friendship with the king spanned more than 30 years, said he recently met with him to discuss the celebration of the 50th anniversary of his inauguration which was being planned for December.Reddy, yesterday, paid his respects to the royal family.“His Majesty leaves a legacy of care and love for his subjects. He worked tirelessly fighting against the scourge of HIV.

“He deeply cared about the values and traditions of the Zulu nation. Perhaps his greatest attribute was his commitment to social cohesion efforts and pronouncements in this region.”Reddy said the king was actively involved in resolving conflicts, and in many cases, his interventions prevented serious consequences and possible upheavals.“The first time I approached His Majesty, to come to the defence of the Indian community, was during the dark time of playwright Mbongeni Ngema’s racist song, degrading the Indian community and calling for them to go back to India.

“The song inflamed severe racial tensions. It was His Majesty who got (former president) Mandela, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Jacob Zuma involved.“Collectively via various interventions, the crisis was averted under His Majesty’s leadership.“In more recent times, the Indian community came under vicious racial onslaught by the Mazibuye African Forum, threatening a repeat of the 1949 riots which saw Africans and Indians pitted against each other.

“On consulting His Majesty, he was involved, quelling the situation, culminating with His Majesty hosting a prayer service at his palace with Zulu and Indian religious and community leaders to heal the wounds of the dark 1949 riots and publicly chastised those evoking those memories.“Even during the recent xenophobic uprising in KZN, His Majesty called an imbizo attended by thousands of his followers at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and brought the attacks against foreigners to a halt.“

I have been fortunate to have accompanied His Majesty on trips abroad as he tirelessly encouraged investments in our province as he wanted to create jobs for the people of KZN. We have lost a king of kings,” said Reddy.

Also at the palace yesterday was businessman Ishwar Ramlutchman, who the king considered as his son.The king adopted Ramlutchman who he named Mabheka Zulu.Ramlutchman was devastated when contacted for comment, saying he spoke to His Majesty the day before he died.Among other ventures, he also worked closely with the king when hosting Diwali celebrations at the palace – another initiative to cement good relations between Africans and Indians.“I will forever honour his legacy as long as I live,” said Ramlutchman.

President of the Kwazulu-natal International Business Association Omie Singh said leaders from the community would visit the royal family soon.“It is with a heavy heart, with which we remember the life of our King Goodwill Zwelithini.“While he may be crowned King of the amazulu people, he was a king for all the people of Kwazulu-natal and South Africa.

“I remember with pride attending his Diwali celebrations and we would travel hundreds of kilometres to celebrate with the royal family.“This showed the king’s heart of embracing all people of KwaZulu-Natal and respecting other religions and cultures.”

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