Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu and Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporters
THE family of a murdered Bulawayo man held his burial service at their neighbour’s home in Pumula South suburb yesterday accusing them of fatally beating him.
Blessing Zikhali (30) died on Wednesday after he was allegedly brutally assaulted at the neighbouring house where Khumbulani Sithole also known as Sniper, an umalayitsha (cross-border transporter) brandished a pistol to frighten people from rescuing his victim.
Zikhali’s family held the funeral service at Sithole’s home, three houses away from theirs.
Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said two people — Farai Fero and Fortune Ngwenya — have been arrested over the murder. They allegedly fatally assaulted Zikhali whom they accused of stealing clothes belonging to Sithole from their washing line. After allegedly beating Zikhali, the two men escorted him to ZRP Pumula station where police called an ambulance to take him to the hospital.
“Police in Bulawayo are investigating a case of murder which occurred on Wednesday in Pumula South. The deceased is Blessing Zikhali (40) from Tsholotsho district who was unemployed. Accused one is Farai Fero aged 40, the second being Fortune Ngwenya aged 30,” said Insp Ncube.
“The now deceased was with his girlfriend at his place of residence when the two came and asked him to go to Ngwenya’s place. When they got there, the two men alleged that Zikhali had stolen clothes from the washing line earlier that day and an argument arose.”
Insp Ncube said the two men assaulted Zikhali with fists and a hose pipe all over the body and he sustained a cut above the left eye.
On March 31 at around 1AM, the two accused persons escorted the now deceased to ZRP Pumula intending to file a report.
“While at the police station, the officers realised that Zikhali was seriously injured and arrested the two men for assault. The police also called an ambulance to take Zikhali to Mpilo Central Hospital where he later died,” he added.
Insp Ncube urged members of the public not to take the law into their hands.
Zikhali’s relatives said they took the funeral service to Sithole’s home to show that the family is responsible for his death.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday attended the service but members of the Sithole family were not home.
Proceedings including body viewing were held at the neighbour’s gate before the family proceeded to Athlone Cemetery Extension for burial.
The Sithole family was not part of the burial and it is said they bought a goat to be slaughtered for mourners, but the Zikhali family would have none of it. The news crew found the goat tied at the locked gate. Zikhali’s aunt Ms Lindiwe Ndlovu said he was killed like a snake and the Sithole family should know that they are to blame.
“The reason we have taken Ble’s funeral wake to Sniper’s home is that Sniper is responsible for his death. He killed him together with his friends whom he bought alcohol so that they could join him in assaulting our son. He accused Ble of stealing his Manchester United T-shirt claiming that the T-shirt was expensive and it cost him R1 200. They claimed that Ble stole the T-shirt because the shoe-print of the person who stole was similar to Ble’s shoeprint,” said Ms Ndlovu.
“They fetched Ble from home at 8AM and started assaulting him until it was 1PM. Even after they assaulted him, he maintained his innocence, so they also came back at about 4PM and they assaulted him in front of his father and neighbours as they watched helplessly as Sniper, a known malayitsha, locked the gate to his home and drew a pistol making it impossible for anyone to render any assistance. Sniper threatened to shoot anyone who would enter his home as they assaulted him.”
She said they used a copper cable to assault him.
“They were assaulting him while tying him to a trailer of a car. They tied his body on the trailer just as Jesus was nailed to the cross. After realising that they had brutally assaulted him they then handed over his body to the police. That is what led to the arrest of Sniper’s accomplices Fortunate Ngwenya and Farai Fero and the two remain detained behind bars. So, a third culprit escaped together with Sniper who we are told crossed the border to South Africa. But fortunately, before his death Ble managed to tell police the people who were assaulting him,” she said.
“The way he was brutalised is the reason why as a family we had resolved that those responsible for his death, should take charge for his burial that is why we have brought Ble’s body to Sniper’s home. We also gather that he goes around bragging that killing is not new to him and he has two more bodies underground that he killed while he was still staying in Emakhandeni. We can’t have such a person as a neighbour. Right now, his family has deserted the home, we wonder how they will return.”
Ms Ndlovu said they would demand compensation for the death.
“We want this to bother him because you can’t just spill blood and not expect repercussions,” she said.
Zikhali’s uncle Mr Lot Zikhali said they want Sithole to be arrested and taking the funeral service to his home was just a form of protest.
“This is befitting to take the funeral to their home because they took our son when he was alive and returned him dead. I don’t think it is possible for us to live together as neighbours again.
People say kuyaxoliswana, this will not bring our son back. Even if we talk about some payments that some people may talk of as an appeasement, it would seem as if we are selling our child. Even if he pays whatever, it would not bring back our son because our child is gone forever.
We only demand that the law takes its course on Sniper. He has put us on life sentence we have to live with as this situation will not heal again. We call on the law to take its course,” said Mr Zikhali.
A neighbour Mrs Lynette Ndlovu said the community was heartbroken following the brutal murder.
She said the incident has left residents confused as to how they will live with the accused’s family. — @nqotshili