Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter
A short reading from the book of Job by pastor Caleb Moyo of the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Job losing 10 children and all his possessions at once seemed a perfect text for the bereaved Entumbane family.
This was last Saturday during a service following the arrival of bodies of six Zimbabweans, five of them from the same family who died in Polokwane, South Africa on July 17.
Ms Nomasiko Mkandla (33) died together with her four-year-old son Jayden Moabe, her siblings Mr Mluleki Mkandla (30), Mr Thulani Mkandla (26), Mr Mthabisi Mkandla (22) and a malayitsha friend, Mr Vusa Makukisi who was accompanying them.
The six died when their car was involved in a head-on collision and another car rammed into it from the side. They were trapped and emergency services in South Africa had to cut open the car to retrieve them. Four of them including Mr Makukisi died on the spot while Thulani, the car owner and the one who was driving when the accident happened, was thrown out of the vehicle on impact and died in hospital. Jayden also died in hospital.
When the bodies arrived in Bulawayo on Saturday, only 30 people were allowed inside the Doves funeral parlour in the city centre in line with lockdown measures effected by Government but hundreds followed the funeral service from outside.
There was viewing of four bodies from those of the five Mkandla family members who died as a Covid-19 test was positive on the other one. Mr Makukisi was buried earlier.
The caskets with the bodies of the Mkandla family members were opened by four Doves Funeral Parlour undertakers who despite their many years on the job, grappled with emotions.
“In Bulawayo it is the most devastating funeral we have handled. In 2019 we had that one where a granny and two granddaughters perished in a house fire in Hillside. Then there was the shooting of two sisters by a soldier in a love triangle. So, this one is the most catastrophic one, claiming five lives from one family at once,” said Doves Funeral Parlour regional manager for the Southern region Mr Kudzai Nyika.
Some of the wailing mourners collapsed and fainted during body viewing.
Mrs Nobuhle Mkandla was the last to bid farewell to her three children, Mthabisi, Mluleki, Nomasiko and her grandson Jayden.
She did not view the body of Thulani who tested positive to Covid-19.
Mrs Mkandla was being assisted by two relatives and as she was about to reach the first coffin, it appeared she had suddenly become too weak but a whisper by pastor Miller Dube of the SDA church seemed to have restored her strength.
After the funeral service, the bodies were driven to West Park cemetery for burial.
Many Entumbane residents stood by the roadside, others watched from their windows and vending stalls as the funeral cortège snaked its way to the deceased’s final resting place.
A special request by the family to have the siblings buried side by side was granted by the Bulawayo City Council.
Well-wishers paid for the graves after a request for free graves was rejected by the local authority.
Hundreds of people turned up at the graveyard.
After a few words and scripture readings from the pastor, in unison like an army parade, the bodies were lowered down at the same time.
The council staff filled the graves and so ended the journey which started with joy as the Mkandla siblings set for home to meet their mother and relatives.
“Sebehambile abantwabami,” is all Mrs Mkandla could as she sat by the gravesite watching the four graves being filled up.
While thanking the support the family received from Government, organisations and members of the public across the globe, family representative Mr Isaac Ncube said their lives had been changed forever.
He had a special request for Mrs Mkandla.
“Without the support we received we would have failed to carry this burden. Our lives have been changed forever and I request those who can provide counselling to assist my brother’s wife. We have buried her children and she needs support after this. I fear that if she does not get it engalimala,” said Mr Ncube. — @themkhust.