11/09/2017 07:03 SAST | Updated 11/09/2017 07:12 SAST

Maidens Forced to Sleep on Bare Floor At Reed Dance

The R500,000 worth of blankets ordered didn't show up.

Traditionally clad Zulu maidens prepare to take part in the Reed Dance (uMkhosi woMhlanga) in the rural district of Emalangeni, some 80km north of Durban. RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP / Getty Images

Thousands of maidens at the annual Zulu Reed Dance in KwaZulu-Natal arrived this weekend to a marquee without any carpets to sleep on, and raised their ire when carpets arrived later that were like those used for "car interiors or as doormats", one maiden said.

IOL reports that the semi-nude maidens were forced to huddle in groups around the marquee as they tried to keep warm when the temperatures dropped below 20 degrees Celcius. Maiden Buyi Ncayiya said the eventual arrival of carpets at 2am did not give them enough time to rest as they needed to get up at around 3am to wash and prepare for the long day.

This comes after a major public outcry by residents of eThekwini at the beginning of September when officials revealed that, of the R1.6 million budgeted for the festival, government would be spending R500,000 on carpets for the event.

The expenditure was approved by the full council with Mayor Zandile Gumede saying support was being given to the maidens to "ensure they were safe and comfortable while attending the Reed Dance", the city said in a statement.

The uMkhosi woMhlanga is held at King Goodwill Zwelithini's Nyokeni palace in Nongoma.