Mgilija Nhleko, a former Zulu regime leader who shot to fame during the traditional burial of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini in March 2021 is being reported to have passed away on Monday, November 8. Nhleko passed away late on Monday in hospital following months of treatment for cancer. A few months ago, the spokesperson of the Nhleko family, Seth Nhleko, told Independent Media that they were working on raising funds to get him special medical care in a private hospital.
The Nhleko family was still mum last night about the passing, with one insider saying the challenge was that they still wanted to formally communicate the bereavement to the Zulu King, Misuzulu KaZwelithini, and the nation’s traditional prime minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Mgilija Nhleko Zulu Regiment reader
Born in 1949, Nhleko made was known for commanding a legion of Zulu regiments during the burial of the late Zulu King. The regiment’s colourful display of Zulu culture started when they escorted the body of the late King out of King Edward hospital in Durban, attracting public attention with people saying the Zulu culture was still intact.
Their colourful display later played out in Nongoma when the regiments welcomed the body home and escorted it to KwaKhathomthandayo palace before he was later secretly buried at night.
In July 2021, Nhleko suffered reputational damage when he led Zulu regiments to support former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla just a few days before Zuma surrendered to start his jail sentence in Estcourt. The move angered the Zulu royal council and Buthelezi. The Osuthu royal council eventually fired him from his position when it emerged that he questioned the legitimacy of King Misuzulu as the King of the nation.
Mgilija Nhleko ZuluTributes
Tributes have poured in thick and fast as the KwaZulu nation mourns Nhleko’s passing. The Injenje Yabenguni Council, which said the late leader was a shining light in terms of Zulu culture.
“His passing evokes great sadness and indeed anger amongst many as we feel robbed of a proud glistening Nguni gem whose sparkle remains unsurpassed amongst his peers. A sizeable number of the Nguni youth have been inspired by the Commander ever since the late Majesty King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu appointed him Commander of the Zulu regiments.
“Whilst there has been unsavoury sinister attempts by some to tarnish his image in the public domain. However, these feeble attempts failed as he remains the most highly respected Zulu Regiment Commander of this generation world over. While he may physically no longer be among us, his spirit shall live on in us for all eternity,” the council said in a statement.
In a press release, Media Release the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation MEC Hlengiwe Mavimbela said he was shocked and saddened at the passing of the former leader of the AmaZulu regiments Zihogozelanga “Mgilija” Nhleko who was 72 years old.
“Mgilija passed away on Monday evening after illness. Mgilija will be remembered for being part of the delegation of regiments who accompanied the late King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu to the United Kingdom.”
“As the department of Arts and Culture, we will remember engagements we used to have with Mgilija as one of our stakeholders during the preparations of commemorations such as the battle of Isandlwana and Umkhosi weLembe.”
“We pass our sincere condolences to the family of Mgilija and amabutho at large”, concluded MEC Mavimbela.