Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi wore his black and gold suit, which cost about R90,000, for the celebration of his 90th birthday at the Durban ICC last month.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

IFP leader prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has returned his R90‚000 golden birthday suit to its designer.

Durban tailor Janak Parekh‚ the man who designed the suit‚ told TimesLIVE on Tuesday that he was left traumatised and heartbroken after Buthelezi returned the suit‚ that he and his family had gifted to him for his 90th birthday.

“My late parents loved prince Buthelezi and we wanted to honour him. We came together as a family and thought it would be fitting to gift him with the suit for his 90th birthday‚” said Parekh.

Buthelezi wore the black suit with gold detailing for a massive birthday celebration held at the International Convention Centre in Durban on August 31. Guests included former presidents Jacob Zuma‚ FW de Klerk and former first ladies Graça Machel and Zanele Mbeki.

Parekh said that the suit had been handcrafted by five artists from across India and he was worried about their reaction when they would find out that the suit had been returned.

“They were very happy when I told them that we would be making a suit for the prince who is from the same country as Nelson Mandela. Now they will be very disappointed that he returned the gift.”

He said that he had been instructed to pick up the suit form the IFP’s Durban office last week Thursday.

As for the reason, Parekh said: “I don’t know why he returned it‚ I can only imagine it was because of the controversy around how much it cost‚” he said.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi (right) in his black and gold suit at the start of his birthday celebrations.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Parekh maintained that he did not disclose the price of the birthday suit to anyone. “I don’t know how this even came out‚ I would never reveal how it costs because that is like buying someone a gift and leaving the price tag on it.”

He has since written a letter to Buthelezi hoping to get clarity and closure about the situation.

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “The matter is not for public consumption. We can confirm that suit was returned to its maker and we have been instructed not to make any further comments regarding this matter.”

Parekh said that the suit has now been returned to India, where his family would decide what to do with it and that they had no intention of selling the suit or making a replica of it for anyone else.