The news of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s passing broke on Friday morning, sending shock waves across the nation.

The monarch of the Zulu Kingdom died in hospital from a diabetes-related illness on Friday. He was 72.

King Zwelithini was admitted to hospital in February due to “several unstable glucose readings” that had raised concern among his doctors.

He was later admitted to the ICU, where he has been closely monitored.

Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former leader of the IFP and the king’s traditional prime minister, made the announcement of the king’s death on Friday.

“It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation,” read Buthelezi’s statement.

“Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty’s health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away in the early hours of this morning.

“On behalf of the Royal Family we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time. May His Majesty our King rest in peace.”

Local celebrities, including Nandi Madida, DJ Tira and Nelisiwe Sibiya, have all taken to social media to extend their sincerest condolences to the Royal Family and the Zulu nation.

Below are some of the reactions as South Africans pay tribute to the longest-serving monarch of the Zulu Kingdom.

“…Praying for the Royal Family and The Zulu Nation at Large ❤️🙏🏾May his Majesty soul eternally rest in Peace 💔👑,” expressed “Durban Gen” actress Nelisiwe Sibiya.

“This is a sad day for the Zulu nation. Farewell to our King Goodwill Zwelithini 🙏🏽👑” commented actress and singer Nandi Madida.

“Farewell King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, The King of the Zulu Monarch. Ulale ngoxolo Hlangalomhlabathi🕊Wena wendlovu!!!!!!,” wrote record producer Black Coffee.

“Ngidlulisa ukudabuka okukhulu ngefu elisibekele iNdlunkulu nesizwe sonke sikaZulu. Ngithi lala ngokuthula noxolo Hlanga Lomhlabathi, Usiphathe ngobunyoningco iSizwe sikaZulu,” commented TV host Minnie Dlamini-Jones.

“Wena weNdlovu! Rest In Peace King Goodwill Zwelithini,” wrote hip hop star Stogie T.

“My condolences to the Zulu nation as we have lost a leader and monarch. One who was and is the Zulu culture in his essence.

“His majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini lead his people in a gracious way and his legacy will live on forever. Alwehlanga lungehlanga. Ikhotheme inkosi,” added record producer DJ Tira.

“Our heart bleeds for the Zulu Nation. May your soul rest in perfect peace, King Goodwill Zwelithini. You have ran your race well! Thank you for all the wisdom!!,” wrote SA’s top record label Kalawa Jazmee.

Born in 1948 at Nongoma in KwaZulu-Natal, King Zwilithini was the eldest son of King Cyprian Bhekuzulu and his second wife, Queen Thomo.

He assumed his kingship aged 23, in 1971. The king is survived by six wives and around 28 children. -IOL