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Swazi widows seek end to mourning

TWO widows of a Swazi man who remains unburied nearly five years after his death because of a chieftaincy dispute have appealed for an end to the affair.

Still officially in mourning, Mzikayise Ntshangase’s widows are cultu

rally not allowed to leave the mourning hut or cook for themselves until his burial.

“Our greatest wish is to have him buried,” his junior wife Jumaima said.

A court has ruled that he be buried in the family’s traditional burial ground, but the palace is challenging this.

According to royal protocol, Ntshangase lost his position as chief of Mkhwakhweni before his death because his brother had married a princess and therefore climbed in the social ranking.

As a result, a spokesman for King Mswati III — Africa’s last absolute monarch — says Ntshangase was evicted from his homestead and lost his right to be buried there.

Ntshangase’s widows, Melinah and Jumaima, are now stuck in a kind of time warp, keeping up their vigil in the mourning hut, which they are not allowed to leave until their husband is buried.

Lindimpi Ntshangase, son to the late chief, was almost in tears when he spelt out the family’s wishes.

“As the Ntshangase clan, we maintain that our father would never be buried at Mpuluzi. We want Mzikayise buried at Mkhwakhweni next to the graves of his forefathers who were also chiefs in the same area.”

The Mbabane Burial Society, where Ntshangase’s body has remained since his death on December 22 2002, is also unhappy with the situation and says the matter has been bad for business.

“The expectation is for the remains to be kept in our facility for not more than seven days while the family is doing the preparations for burial, and this have not been the case,” the mortuary’s director Dudu Dlamini said.

The body has shrunk drastically in the past few years: the suit is now three times too big; the dried flesh appears stuck to the bones and the face is pitch black with empty eye sockets.

“We want to seek redress for this unfortunate delay and to bring finality to the matter. It must be borne in mind that we’re dealing with human beings here. Though dead their dignity needs to be protected,” she said.

The issue has sparked debate on the streets of the capital, Mbabane. “It’s a very sad and shocking situation. Having grudges on someone who has died doesn’t show any signs of sanity; it’s sickening,” one man said.

Another added that the unfortunate situation was “unSwazi”.

Ntshangase’s fate now awaits a decision by the Supreme Court, which is due to hear the case towards the end of this month. — BBC News.

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