Elvis Nyathi monument in Bulawayo Elvis Nyathi’s widow Nomsa Nyathi (second from left), uncle Stanley Ndlovu and aunties stand over the headstone

Stanford Chiwanga, Online News Editor
A gravestone has been erected at Umvutsha Park Cemetery in Bulawayo for the late Elvis Nyathi, a Zimbabwean national who made headlines worldwide after he was killed by a mob in South Africa.

Nyathi (41) was brutally murdered by a vigilante group in Diepsloot, South Africa on April 6 in what is believed to have been a response from a call by militant Operation Dudula leader Nhlanhla Lux to weed out criminals and illegal foreign nationals who they accused of committing crimes in the township north of Johannesburg.

The late Elvis Nyathi

Seven men — Cedric Raseale, Baron Mashele, Godfrey Mahlo, Thomas Serebane, Phumuduza Tshirangwana, Thabo Makgatho and Puleng Chipape — were arrested for the murder of Nyathi and have since appeared in court facing charges of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, assault with intent to do bodily harm and extortion.

The matter has been postponed to August 24 for further investigation.

Elvis Nyathi’s grave before the headstone installation

Northern Granites, a Bulawayo company that manufactures granite tombstones and offers graveyard maintenance services, donated and erected the monument on Friday in honour of the late Nyathi as his emotional family, including his wife, Mrs Nomsa Nyathi and his uncle, Mr Stanley Ndlovu, watched.

During Nyathi’s State-assisted burial in April, a Northern Granites representative pledged to donate and erect a tombstone and three months down the line, the company has lived up to its word.

Elvis Nyathi’s wife Nomsa Nyathi (in yellow), uncle Stanley Ndlovu and aunties stand over the gravestone

“We wanted to erect a tombstone, but the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) advised us that we had to do with a headstone because it banned tombstones. We may apply for a waiver so that we honour our brother the right way, we do not think that the grave stone is enough.

“Elvis Nyathi is more than a resident of Bulawayo, he is a Zimbabwean who represents the struggles that our parents, brothers and sisters go through in South Africa and we believe his grave must be symbol of the xenophobic inspired struggles that we endure across the Limpopo River. We are all Elvis Nyathi.

Northern Granites director Lino Nyevhe (left) supervises the erection of the headstone

“As Northern Granites, we say to Elvis Nyathi’s family, be comforted in the Lord and be strong and courageous and do not be afraid, neither be you dismayed, for the Lord our God is with you always. He will never forsake you,” said Mr Lino Nyevhe, a director at Northern Granites.

In 2020, BCC banned the erection of tombstones at its cemeteries and only allows headstones to be erected on graves as it says headstones promote effective maintenance of cemeteries in line with the Cemeteries Act.

Bulawayo Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube

Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube said the erection of headstones will promote effective maintenance of the cemeteries in line with the Cemeteries Act.

“The City of Bulawayo would like to advise members of the public, Grave Monumentalists and Funeral Service Providers that in terms of the Cemeteries Act, the Bulawayo (Cemeteries) Regulations, 1967 and a Council resolution of Wednesday March 7, 2018 that only headstones shall be erected on graves at Athlone West cemetery and other new cemeteries. The erection of headstones will facilitate easy and effective maintenance of the cemeteries,” Mr Dube told the Chronicle in 2020.

Nomsa Nyathi (left) and Babikwa Nyathi (Right), watch the erection of Elvis Nyathi’s headstone

Mr Ndlovu, the late Nyathi’s uncle, thanked Northern Granites for the gravestone donation and appealed to BCC to allow the company to erect a tombstone.

“Alone as a family, we don’t think we could have been able to erect this headstone because of lack of funds. We want to thank Northern Granites for this kind gesture, in a selfish world, they chose to be selfless. The headstone is very beautiful and it is well crafted. But as a family, we ask the council to allow Northern Granites to erect the tombstone. We understand that there are rules and regulations and we respect that. But we are talking about Elvis Nyathi here, a man who represents the xenophobic battles our relatives fight in South Africa,” he said.

Northern Granites employees erect Elvis Nyathi’s gravestone

Mr Ndlovu revealed that people who had pledged to build a house for Nyathi’s widow and his four children have not honoured their promises. Nyathi left behind four children, Mike Nyathi (9), Melusi Nyathi (18), Khumbulani Nyathi (16), Sandisiwe Nyathi (14) and widow Nomusa Tshuma.

He said: “Elvis left a wife and four children and they are suffering because their breadwinner is no longer with them. They have no one to turn to and we ask for donations to help them to sustain themselves. They are hallowing in poverty and it is not nice to see them suffer. She is struggling to pay school fees for them.

“I also want to remind everyone who promised to avail funds and material to help build a house for Nyathi’s family that we look forward to hearing from them. The family needs them and we ask them not to forget us. They live in a two-roomed house; they could use a bigger house.”

An emotional Mrs Nyathi refused to comment.

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