IN strict adherence to Covid-19 regulations the country yesterday buried three of its finest sons at the National Heroes Acre, in a grim reminder of the devastating effects of the global pandemic.
The triple burial was a first of its kind and a reminder that the global plague is still lingering menacingly in the air and everyone is a potential victim of the virus.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Lt-Gen (Rtd) Dr Sibusiso Busi Moyo, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joel Biggie Matiza and former Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services Commissioner General, Maj-Gen (Rtd) Paradzai Zimondi were all buried yesterday.
Lt-Gen (Rtd) Dr Moyo’s casket was the first to arrive, followed by Dr Matiza and then Maj-Gen (Rtd) Zimondi.
Their burial came barely a fortnight after the country witnessed a double burial of two other heroes Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and Cde Morton Malianga, both victims of the virulent virus which now threatens to spiral out of control.
Because of the dark shadow cast by Covid-19, tradition has been shelved, heroes are not being taken to the historical Stoddart Hall, crowds are not thronging the revered national burial monument, and yesterday, everyone had to be tested for the virus before passage to attend the sombre occasion which was attended by a sparse crowd to ensure funeral proceedings conformed to the World Health Organisation rules.
People who tested positive were denied entry and referred for further treatment, screening and isolation, as part of enhanced efforts to contain the pandemic, that has this January alone claimed more people than the whole of last year when the pandemic was first recorded in Zimbabwe in March.
At the triple burial, bereaved families spoke dearly of their dear departed sons who died from the virus.
A Moyo family representative, Mr Sikhanyiso Moyo, gave a glowing tribute to Dr Moyo, taking mourners down memory lane from the time the late national hero was a schoolboy.
“SB Moyo’s bravery was evident from childhood. Our father tells a story that when SB was in Grade 7, he complained of a teacher who was strict and many dropped the subject. He had a discussion with our father and when he was asked how he is faring, he said ku Maths kwangosara isu vezvivindi (only the brave ones like us are still doing Mathematics).
“Baba’s (Dr Moyo’s father) dreams of seeing his son become a medical doctor and were shattered in 1977, when SB Moyo and a few friends left school to join liberation struggle,” he said.
“I would like to thank President Mnangagwa and Government for conferring national hero status to our brother. This is the highest honour.
“Our brother was a fighter who never gave up on life. He never showed pain nor fear, even when he was sick.
“Tinoti Dhewa, Bvumavaranda, Mwana wavaRozvi, zorora zvakanaka.”
Mr Luckmore Chitima the Matiza family representative said Dr Matiza was the first in their family to be conferred the honour.
“I would like to thank the Presidium, the party and Government, for giving Dr JB Matiza the highest honour in the land, national hero status.”
He said Dr Matiza was passionate about education and production.
Mr Elvis Tapuwei Zimondi, an uncle to the late Commissioner General Zimondi, thanked Government for honouring their son.
“I would like to thank Government for conferring Heroes’ status to our son. We do not take the honour for granted. We hope it inspires others from the country to rise and work for the country.”
He described the national hero as a hardworking man and very disciplined son even in his early professional years before he joined the liberation struggle.
Service chiefs and a few Government ministers attended yesterday burial of the national heroes.