King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu nation in South Africa has died in hospital where he was being treated for diabetes-related issues.

The king, 72, was the leader of South Africa’s largest ethnic group and an influential traditional ruler.

He had been admitted to hospital in KwaZulu-Natal last week to monitor his ongoing diabetes condition.

Throughout his 50 year-reign he was a strong advocate for preserving cultural identity

The king’s prime minister thanked South Africa for its “continued prayers and support in this most difficult time”.