Today I am homesick for Heaven. My son, Prince Phumaphesheya Gregory,
is gone. My daughter, Princess Lethuxolo Bengitheni, is gone. My
daughter, Princess Mandisi Sibukakonke, is gone. My son, Prince
Nelisuzulu Benedict, is gone. My daughter, Princess Mabhuku
Snikwakonke, is gone. How can I face another loss?
I face it in Christ; for there is no other way to bear the pain of grieving.
Today, my family walks through the valley of the shadow of death, but
we are not alone. I thank God that my beautiful wife, Princess Irene
Thandekile, is by my side. May our Lord comfort her as I, a mortal
man, cannot. May He heal her heart and speak peace to the depths of
her soul. My wife has endured unspeakable sorrow. Yet still she trusts
in the Lord. She is my rock. She points me to Christ. I thank God for
having married someone like her.
I also thank God for my children, Prince Ntuthukoyeziwe Zuzifa,
Princess Phumzile and Princess Sibuyiselwa Angela. Thank you for being
here for your mother and me. I know your pain is as much for the loss
of your brother, as it is for the heartache of your parents. We are a
family, brought together by grief, tied together by love. May God
bless and comfort you.
As I look beyond our family, to our extended family and our Clan, I
recognise the support of many and I thank you. Then I see our
colleagues and friends, the leaders of our country, our prayerful
brothers and sisters in Christ, and even the media, and I hear the
messages of condolences coming in from across the world, wherever we
have friends. I am overwhelmed by the support for my family. Thank you.
I have endured so many attacks as a political leader and as a man who
gave his life to the service of our nation. Even now, as we sit here,
the public discourse is full of invectives against the Party I
founded, as though accusing someone of being an Inkatha supporter is
the worst insult imaginable. In the midst of the bile and venom, it is
easy to forget that I have friends who know me, who know the truth and
believe as I do that everything I have done, I have done for the good
of my country.
I say this at a time like this because I know how much my family has
suffered because of the vilification of their husband and father. All
my children have felt the sting of being Mangosuthu Buthelezi's child.
If the criticisms against me were fair, I would have stepped out of
public life many years ago for the sake of my family. The slings and
arrows are meant to deter me. But my family knows that I was born for
this purpose; to serve my country. If I walk away because of
opposition, I will give my children an example of weakness. I have no
intention of dying with my boots on as my enemies, both inside the
Party and from other parties, allege. I wish retirement day was
tomorrow after all that I have endured.
I want my family to see, today, that we have support. There is a tide
of people of goodwill in South Africa; people who are focussed on
seeing this country prosper and thrive, people who are genuine in
their kindness, honest in their intentions and hopeful always for a
good outcome from hard work. For every nasty word that is amplified in
the public space, there are thousands of words of encouragement spoken
in private, with sincerity of heart.
I want my family to look, and see that we are not alone. I thank His
Majesty the King for his message of condolence and for the gift of two
oxen donated for today's funeral. I am speechless, for I know how much
the King carries not only as King but as the Head of the Zulu Royal
House to which I belong. This was unexpected and is much appreciated.
When I see some of the widows of my beloved cousins; Indlunkulu
MaNtombela, Indlunkulu MaJele, and the Queens of our Nation, and all
the members of the Zulu Royal House, I am deeply deeply touched. And I
thank them specifically for taking the place of my mother, Princess
Magogo kaDinuzulu. May God bless Your Royal Highnesses. It heals the
wound in my heart to know that members of my mother's family have not
forgotten that whatever is done, we belong together, in one family.
I thank my Bishop, Bishop the Right Reverend Dino Gabriel, and all
members of our clergy and clergy from other denominations for
surrounding me, my wife and children with so much love and comforting
messages. I thank the Rev. Stegen, and can find no words to fully
express my appreciation to him. Over the years he tried to help
Phumphesheya to get over his problem of addiction. He has been both a
father-in-the-Lord and Brother-in-Christ through the abundant love
that this family has enjoyed through him.
Please also allow me to single out our friend, Mr Arnold Zulman.
During the Apartheid era, when Black people could not stay in a hotel
in South Africa, Mr Zulman and his lovely wife, Rosemary, opened their
home in Durban to us. His role in making his house a venue for peace
talks that President Zuma and Dr Frank Mdlalose conducted, is
something we can never forget. As he now lives in London, I was
pleasantly surprised to hear from my son that he would be here to
The presence of all my friends, colleagues and my Secretary from Cape
Town and other parts of South Africa has been a balm for our aching
hearts. As for Mr Logan Reddy, Mr Steve Moodley, Mr Prim Iyer, the
Laganparsad family and Mr Hassan Motala and Pastor Tim Moodley, I am
short of words that can adequately express the thanks of my wife, my
children and myself. To Dr Krishna Patel, thanks for all that you
tried to do to save Phumaphesheya's life. There are a number of people
who made very generous donations to ease the burden of this funeral.
May God also bless them. There are too many others I wish to mention,
but time does not allow me to do so. I thank my staff in Cape Town,
Durban and Ulundi. I could not do the hard work that God has allotted
to me, without their hard work and support.
Prince Phumaphesheya, Phuma or Mphesh, as we affectionately called
him, suffered illness for a long time before he slipped this mortal
coil on Wednesday afternoon. He was in and out of hospital for more
than a year and we continuously prayed for his health to improve. But
our bodies are fragile and Phuma could not sustain such a long
illness. I am grateful for the medical care he received and for the
moments I could spend with him even in hospital.
Although we saw him ill for such a long time, that is not the way we
will remember him. There are many more years of joy and health that we
will treasure. Having gone through this before, I know that in the
years to come memories of Phuma will pop up at the most surprising
times. We will remember him as a child, going off to KwaSizabantu in
Kranskop. We will see a teenager with their father, and remember Phuma
embracing his independence as he moved into adulthood.
I thank my friend and brother, Mr Horst-Klaus Hofmann, who invited
Mphesh to stay with him in the castle in Reichelsheim in Germany,
under the auspices of Young Christians on the Offensive. He even got
the opportunity to go to the United States whilst he lived there. All
were trying to help me, by helping him.
These are the memories we will treasure in the time to come.
As I face grief again, I again say as the man of God, Job, said, "The
Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the
Lord." I understand now that those words were not uttered with a sigh
of resignation, but with triumphant tones. For the fact that God is
constant is this inconstant world provides us with the anchor we
sorely need. Were it not for Christ, we would be without hope. Were it
not for the promise of the resurrection and eternal life, we would be
at sea in our turmoil. I am, of course, not a latter day Job. I am a
redeemed sinner through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
I look to the Lord today, as I have for so many years, and I ask Him
again to sustain me. May He carry my family through this grief and
heal our broken hearts.
Above all, may Prince Phumaphesheya Gregory Buthelezi finally rest in peace.