Coronavirus lockdown rules forced Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to host a scaled-down version of the annual reed dance celebration.
The king invited only 30 maidens to his eNyokeni Royal Palace for the annual highlight which usually attracts thousands of virgins.
Instead of presenting the king with reeds, this year’s maidens — who also wore masks — carried placards calling for an end to gender-based violence (GBV).
In his keynote address, Zwelithini threw his support behind South African women affected by GBV.
“I want women to rest assured that I am in their corner,” Zwelithini said in the address.
“I commit myself to your safety for as long as I live…. This is a war that I and all who identify themselves as Zulus embrace.
“We must not take this as a norm because no nation that allows the killing of women deserves respect,” implored the Zulu monarch.
South Africa had been grappling with the problem of violence against women long before the coronavirus lockdown in the country.
But the number of victims has surged since the lockdown instituted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March.
More than 120,000 victims rang the national helpline for abused women and children in the first three weeks after the lockdown started on 27 March — double the usual number of calls.
In other news – Actress Thandeka Mdeliswa has died #RIPThandekaMdeliswa
News of the 27-year-old’s death was confirmed on Saturday and according to the statement, she died at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria where she had been transferred after being moved from hospital to hospital. Learn more