Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
Government has paid tribute to Zimbabweans in South Africa for assisting in the repatriation of 22 illegal miners who died in a disused shaft in that country in February.
The miners entered the Roodepoort Mine shaft on February 22 and suffocated to death while looking for gold.
Of the 22 Zimbabweans, 13 were from Nkayi, five from Gokwe South, one from Kwekwe, two from Tsholotsho and one woman from Kezi.
With assistance from Zimbabweans based in South Africa, their bodies were repatriated to the country for burial in a cortege of 10 hearses from Kings and Queens Funeral parlour and money from Lion Share Holdings.
The two are South African companies owned by Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe’s Consular-General Mr Godfrey Magwenzi said, “As the consulate we are very grateful to the young men and women who braved the harsh and dangerous conditions and helped in retrieving the bodies of those who had died in the mine.
“We are very touched with the labour of love they showed in ensuring that their relatives and comrades did not rot inside the mine and made sure they got a decent burial.
Among the rescue team were young men aged between 19 and 20 years.”
He added: “We are very humbled with the assistance we got from Lion Share Holdings which paid for transportation and repatriation services of the 22 miners to Zimbabwe.
King and Queens Funeral Parlour also played a leading role in ensuring that our people were transported back home
by offering free coffins and services.”
Mr Magwenzi also thanked Government and its line departments that played a pivotal role in providing travel documents to the relatives of the deceased.
Matabeleland South Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Abednico Ncube commended officers at Beitbridge Border Post for ensuring smooth repatriation.
“It is very important for people to beunited in both good and bad times, it’s a blessing in God’s eyes and I wish as Zimbabweans we could continue with the culture of working together,” he said.
Matabeleland North Minister of State Ambassador Cain Matema echoed the same sentiments.
“We feel sorry for the families and we are also very thankful to everyone who offered a hand during our moment of sorrow. Our consulate did a good job in co-ordinating the whole repatriation process with the assistance of relatives and other concerned Zimbabweans based in South Africa,” he said.
Midlands Provincial Minister of State Jaison Machaya said, “I want to thank all those who played a part in ensuring that our brothers were accorded decent burials. We are also urging all Zimbabweans to remain with the spirit of togetherness at all times. We are one people and we need to work hand-in-glove at all times.”