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Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 14:01 GMT
Swazi shock at leopard skin theft
King Mswati III of Swaziland
King Mswati is Africa's last absolute monarch
Swaziland has been shocked by the theft of King Mswati III's leopard-skin cape.

The "umdada" cape went missing about three weeks ago, as the king prepared for the "Incwala" kingship ceremony that tests his fitness to reign.

The BBC's Thulani Mthethwa in Mbabane says many people in Swaziland are shocked to hear that royal regalia could be stolen.

The Swazi Observer newspaper reported that the costume was found in the possession of a royal adviser.

According to the paper, the adviser said he had bought it from one of the king's valets.

Prince Masitsela, the king's brother was quoted by The Times of Swaziland as saying that ancestral spirits would deal with the thieves.

"Anyone who came in contact with the costume is in for a shock," said the prince.

"In the history of the Swazis, anyone who touches anything belonging to the king, be it a trouser or anything that he wears, angers the gods who will cast a spell on him," the prince was quoted as saying.

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