Thandeka Moyo Chronicle Reporter
POLICE in Bulawayo yesterday briefly stopped the burial of a 25-year-old prostitute who was found dead last Tuesday in her rented room in Paddonhurst suburb after they took her body from the graveside as part of “ongoing investigations”.
Memory Bhebhe was found dead, naked and had a piece of cloth stuck in her mouth. There were no visible bruises or blood on her body.
Mourners were treated to an unusual spectacle when police briefly took Bhebhe’s coffin from West Park Cemetery before they later returned it for burial.
But the real drama had begun earlier during the funeral procession.
Some of her colleagues in the prostitution trade insisted that the body be taken around some of the night clubs in the city which Bhebhe used to frequent as she sought clients.
They gave her a “heroic sendoff” much to the annoyance of her family and neighbours.
A disgruntled Pelandaba resident described the act as an abomination to society.
“We went to the burial to support our neighbour but after leaving the funeral parlour, we passed by Forty40 Night Club and Stop Over Bar. Memory’s body was taken into those two night spots and her fellow colleagues started dancing and stripping in front of the hearse,” said the woman.
“That was extreme and some of us had to go back home as we couldn’t stand the sight of dancing prostitutes celebrating Memory’s life. We’re still pained by her death but what her colleagues did was extreme and as a community we condemn that.”
An official from the cemetery who chose not to be named said Bhebhe’s burial faced some unusual hustles rarely seen at West Park cemetery. The official said Bhebhe was finally buried later than usual when others had long left after burying their departed loved ones.
“I understand that police were after something on her head thus they came to this place and asked the family to release the body just before it could be interred. I understand that they opened the coffin and took a wig-like item from the head,” said the official.
The Chronicle caught up with Bhebhe’s family in Pelandaba and they confirmed the incident.
The family said they were hopeful the police would eventually arrest her murderer.
“Police have been working hard to catch the heartless man who killed my granddaughter. They took her body for days last week.
“We had initially scheduled to bury her on Saturday but we had to change as police were still investigating,” said Samuel Mpofu, Bhebhe’s grandfather.
“Today at the cemetery I was told police wanted something from the coffin to use in their investigations and I gave them the green light. They did what they wanted and gave us the body back and we managed to bury Memory.”
He added that he was positive police would end the family’s trauma by arresting the killer.
“We wish we knew why my granddaughter was killed. We’re not sure whether the motive was robbery as she stayed alone. I also got wind that she was a sex worker. Although her friends and colleagues came to support us, I don’t support such acts,” said Mpofu.
Bhebhe’s uncle, Brighton Gwayi said his niece was peace-loving and the family would miss her.
“We noticed the presence of human rights organisations during the burial and that’s when we realised Memory was really into her profession. We’re hopeful that one day we’ll get to know who killed her. Memory is survived by a six-year-old son,” he said.
Memory’s death was discovered on the morning of May 12 by one of the tenants who intended to wake her up so that they could perform their usual and routine duties of sweeping the yard.
Her friend said she last spoke to Memory at around 1AM last Tuesday as she was coming from a night club. She said Memory was already inside the room with a male client. However, everyone who lives in the house said they didn’t hear any noise during the night.