After an angry group of demonstrators prevented Cyril from leaving King Zwelithini’s funeral, President Ramaphosa can thank his quick-thinking guards.
On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his fellow VIP dignitaries had to make an improvised escape from the Zulu Royal Palace in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, after disgruntled amabutho (Zulu regiments) blocked the entrance to the palace, which was hosting an official memorial service for the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Throughout the service, over 150 people in full Zulu traditional gear, carrying traditional weapons like spears, knobkieries and shields camped at the palace gates, attempting to gain entry. The angry regiments, said no one would leave, They closed the road leading in and out of the palace.
The commotion was announced to members of President Ramaphosa’s security team. With their only way out of the venue compromised, fast thinking was needed. Indeed, many on-duty guards made quick work of removing a nearby fence, allowing the presidential motorcade to pass.
An armed battalion of police, on the other hand, failed to clear the group from the front gates, resulting in a tense standoff until their cordon was broken. There was no commotion when the gate was opened, and no-one tried to stop amabutho as they went through singing praise songs.
After gaining access to the palace, they marched straight to the palace’s main house of mourning and bowed in front of it as a mark of respect.