State assisted funeral for xenophobia victim Elvis Nyathi

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – A Zimbabwean man burned alive in anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa will be accorded a state-assisted funeral, the Zimbabwe government announced.

Elvis Mbodazwe Nyathi, 43, was murdered by a mob in Diepsloot, a poor neighbourhood of Johannesburg, on April 6.

The Zimbabwe government said on Wednesday it would carry the cost of his funeral, while the funeral services company Doves said it would repatriate his body to Zimbabwe.

Nyathi is expected to be laid to rest in the Malaba area of Kezi, Matabeleland South, during Easter weekend.

Chief Cabinet secretary Misheck Sibanda said President Emmerson Mnangagwa had made the decision that Nyathi be accorded a state-assisted funeral. Mnangagwa has not publicly spoken about the father-of-four’s death.

South Africa-based funeral insurance company, Zororo-Phumulani, a subsidiary of Doves, has pledged to repatriate Nyathi’s body at no cost to his family.

Zororo-Phumulani managing director Oliver Mufudze said: “We are at a loss of words about what happened in Diepsloot, what happened to Elvis is beyond human imagination. Our company wishes to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Nyathi family and the Zimbabwean family at large.

“We are touched. Zororo-Phumulani pledges to repatriate the remains of Nyathi to his final resting place in Zimbabwe at zero cost to the family.”

In 2019, Zororo-Phumulani also assisted the Sithole family after Isaac Sithole was killed during anti-immigrant unrest in Johannesburg.

South African police have not made any arrests over Nyathi’s killing, which was captured on video.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the murder.

Nyathi’s brother, Godknows, said the experience had left the family in deep distress.

“He was not a violent man, he was a very good person. On behalf of the Nyathi family I wish want to thank Zororo-Phumulani for what they have done for us. Words are not enough to express our gratitude,” said Nyathi.

Melody Chawurura from Zimbabwe’s embassy in South Africa visited the Nyathi family on Friday last week and promise his family she would “work flat out to ensure that all the necessary paperwork is done in the shortest possible time frame.”

Nyathi’s body is expected in Zimbabwe on Good Friday.

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