Dept to pay funeral costs for maidens

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture has offered to pay the funeral costs of the two maidens who died in a stampede during the Royal Reed Dance at Nyokeni Palace in KwaNongoma at the weekend.

MEC for Arts and Culture, Weziwe Thusi, on Monday said the department wanted to take the burden of paying for a funeral off the families to help them through the tragedy.

"We as the department decided to take all the expenses because the maidens were attending the function that was hosted by the department. This is our way of assisting the families at this difficult time," said MEC Thusi.

She had visited the family of Mbali Mhlongo, one of the girls who died on Monday. She is expected to visit the family of Noxolo Mbatha next week.

Mbali and Noxolo died at the weekend after sustaining injuries when a stampede broke out during the Zulu traditional Royal Reed Dance.

Eleven maidens were hurt in the incident; three were seriously injured and rushed to St Benedictine Hospital were they are in a critical but stable condition. Mbali and Noxolo died the next day.

Once a year in early September, invited maidens make their way to the King's royal residence, to perform a traditional dance for the Zulu King.

More than 16 000 maidens, from various communities throughout the province, took part in this year's ceremony, with the rest of the Zulu nation helping them to celebrate their preparation for womanhood.

The department said they were still investigating the cause of the incident, but wished all the maidens who sustained injuries a speedy recovery.