WATCH: Ashes to ashes, Esigodini fire victims remembered in moving memorial

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter 

WHEN Kesari Sibanda’s coffin was unloaded from a hearse at Red Rose Farm’s football ground yesterday, his family broke down in tears. 

Sibanda’s family was one of the 10 families who were gathered under the tent that housed relatives and friends of the denary men who were burnt to death, some beyond recognition while trying to fight a veld fire that broke out at Red Rose Farm Lot 43 on Monday.

These were scenes at the memorial service held at Red Rose Farm in Esigodini under Umzingwane district, Matabeleland South province, where hundreds of mourners gathered.

Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Nqobizitha Ndlovu, Umzingwane MP Brigadier General (Rtd) Levi Mayihlome, Environmental Management Agency Board Chairperson Ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi, Zanu-F Politburo Member Cde Richard Ndlovu, Umzingwane District Development Coordinator (DDC) Mrs Siphathisiwe Mlotshwa and Insiza DDC Mr Zacharia Jusa attended the service. 

The owner of Lot 43, Abel Moyo and his business partner, Mike Stone, who runs Red Rose Farm and their families were also among the mourners.

Cries of pain and heartbreak from women pierced the air as they wept at the sight of coffin after coffin carried to the centre of the gathering by Doves Funeral Services pallbearers.

It was sad to see 10 coffins lined up. Some of the deceased were too young to die — Luzibo Tshuma was just 18 when he met his death. 

His uncle, Tobias Simusonde Kamambo said it was a double tragedy for their family as on the same day when Luzibo met his demise in Esigodini, his aunt’s huts was going down in flames in Binga.

“We had a very painful problem. When Luzibo encountered his death due to a veld fire in Esigodini, in Binga on the same day, my sister, Luzibo’s aunt, had her hut burnt down by a veld fire. We are distraught as a family after the two tragedies that have befallen us,” said Kamambo.

He said Luzibo will be buried at their rural home of Chisiizya under Chief Sinamagonde in Binga.

It was a double blow for Cryton Mudimba as he lost his brother Ian Mudimba (38) and his nephew, Oliver Mudenda (27).

Mourners break down during a mass funeral service in Esigodini yesterday

Ian leaves behind a wife and three children, while Oliver’s death has orphaned his two minor children and widowed his wife. 

Thabani Sibanda, the uncle of Kesari Sibanda (53) said his death was heart-wrenching. 

“We called him baba saMdawini. We have lost a father, grandfather and uncle. I would like to thank President Mnangagwa who sat down with the arms of Government and saw it fit to help us. Alone we wouldn’t have been able to. We are in mourning with the families who also lost their loved ones,” said Sibanda.

He said the father of six will be buried today at their rural home of Figtree in Matabeleland South province.

Petros Mdlongwa lost his brother Simon in the inferno, and said the family was left speechless.

“He was very respectful and had a good heart. I don’t remember even one instance that he was disrespectful to his elders or to anyone else. He touched a lot of lives and people testify that he was a good man,” said Mdlongwa. 

He said his brother will be buried on Sunday in the Mandiholongola area in Gwanda South.

England Moyo was 20 years old when he passed on and his uncle, Dennis Sibanda said he was grateful for the love and support they have received. 

“He was so young, we thought that he would help uplift his family but alas God took him from us. My nephew loved playing with children, those were his friends.” 

He said his nephew will be buried in Nyamandlovu today.

Zwelithini Dlamini, brother to Nelisugwana (47) said the family has been left without a pillar.

“Homes no longer have their pillar of strength such as ours. We don’t know where the children and wife of Nelisa will turn to. We are devastated as a family. This is sad. He was a man among men, kind hearted and loving.” 

Tauya Moyo, brother to Bafana Moyo (53) from the Dimpamiwa area of Nkayi district, said the father of two was a man of peace.

“He was born in Nkayi at the hospital and did his education at Dimpamiwa and worked at K and K Timbers. He and other men from Esigodini left years ago and started working at this farm, he was a tractor driver. 

“I’m proud that I heard that Bafana was an exemplary man and model citizen. Even when growing up, Bafana was peaceful and when I got here, the same was said about him.”

Bafana will be buried at their rural home of Dimpamiwa in Nkayi today. 

The late Menelisi Ngwenya’s grandfather, Johnson said death does not discriminate. He said his grandson will be buried today in the Tohwe area of Nkayi. 

Thabani Mpofu’s (46) family representative Blessing Ndlovu was heartbroken at the loss of his uncle and could only thank the Government for their intervention.

Thabani leaves behind a wife and three children and Ndlovu said he will be buried today at their homestead in Nkayi’s Gwelutshena area.

 Minister Ndlovu said that soon owning metal detectors will be illegal if one does not have a licence. Most of the veld fires are started by illegal gold miners clearing land in order to use metal detectors to find the precious metal.

“We met on Wednesday with the different arms of Government such as the CPU, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Mines. It was resolved that owning a metal detector should be licenced by the Ministry of Mines. It’ll be illegal to own one without a mining licence,” said Minister Ndlovu. 

 In a speech read on his behalf by Insiza DDC Mr Zacharia Jusa, Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo said a dark cloud had engulfed the province and the nation. 

“Incidents like this one disturb us a lot, as the national Civil protection committee as we expect to see communities being able to prevent, prepare, respond and being able to recover from disasters without losses of lives and property,” said Minister Moyo.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Director in the Ministry of Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Minister Abednico Ncube said the province would not forget the selfless dedication to duty by the 10.

EMA board chair, Ambassador Nsimbi said the organisation will pay fees and buy uniforms for the children of the deceased until they complete their education.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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