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Go well defender of Zimbabwe's legacy!

by Staff reporter
10 Jun 2022 at 07:53hrs | Views
IT was a grand sendoff fit for a liberator as the body of the late Major General (Retired) Sikhulile Simpson Nyathi left his rural home yesterday in Mapate area in Gwanda on the final journey for burial at the National Heroes' Acre in Harare.

Mourners gathered at the Nyathi homestead for a farewell service following his death on Sunday morning at the Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks Referral Hospital in Harare at the age of 61.

The late Rtd Major-General Nyathi held key positions in the army and rose through the ranks to Major in 1984, Lieutenant Colonel in 1990, Colonel in 1997, Brigadier General in 2010 and Major General in 2020.

He also received numerous medals for his dedicated, selfless and exemplary service to the nation.

He was declared a national hero on Wednesday.

The national hero's body arrived from the capital city at 9:25AM at the Gwanda Aerodrome located about five kilometres out of Gwanda Town, where it was received by service chiefs.

A convoy which comprised service chiefs, representatives of Government departments, members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and relatives left for the Nyathi homestead which is located in Mapate Village about 100 kilometres from Gwanda Town.

The body of the late Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi arrived at the homestead at 11:20AM where mourners were gathered for his farewell service.

Addressing mourners at the Nyathi homestead, Chief of Staff administrative staff, Major General Emmanuel Matatu said the late Rtf Maj-Gen Nyathi greatly contributed towards the country's liberation.

He said the national hero dedicated most of his life towards defending Zimbabwe's legacy.

"Simpson as we commonly called him joined the struggle at a tender age of 17.

He was trained in Zambia and the then Soviet Union (Russia).

He played an integral part in the liberation struggle and survived many attacks by the Rhodesian armed forces.

Simpson joined the Zimbabwe National Army at Independence as a very junior officer in the army," said Maj-Gen Matatu.

"I personally met him during the early 1980s when we were assigned to different branches of the Army Headquarters during the formative years of the ZNA.

We worked together long nights, long hours and sleepless nights working on documents to restructure the force of the ZNA and to come up with new policies and ideas.

He went on to teach at Zimbabwe Staff College and National Defence University."

He described the late Maj-Gen Nyathi as a hard worker, good team player and man of his word. Maj-Gen Matatu said the health of the late Maj-Gen Nyathi started deteriorating later and worsened over the past five months which was disheartening.

Speaking on behalf of the family, sister to the late Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi, Ms Malumisa Mpabanga extended her gratitude to Government for declaring him a national hero.

She said they were also pleased to have been given an opportunity to bid him farewell.

Ms Mpabanga said the late Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi had always been an exemplary figure to his siblings and inspired them to do well in their studies.

Community members said in his youth, Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi was a progressive young man and a role model to his peers.

Fondly referred to as "Skhu" in his community, villagers said the late Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi never forgot his roots.

In an interview, Ms Betty Moyo (78) who was a friend to the late mother of the late Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi said the world had lost a fine man.

She said his character fits a verse found in the scriptures: James 1v 19 "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath".

Pallbearers carry a casket with the body of the late Major General (Rtd) Sikhulile Simpson Nyathi at his homestead in Mapate Village, Gwanda, Matabeleland South while relatives comfort each other after the body arrived at Gwanda Aerodrome yesterday

"I watched Skhu grow up as a boy.

He was very respectful and he loved going to church.

He was very active in church, he loved singing and teaching at Sunday School.

When he was a teenager, we would send him to attend meetings and he would come back and give us full details of what would have transpired.

He was unlike other children who were mischievous and notorious.

When I heard of his passing, I was heartbroken because we have lost a good man," she said.

The late national hero's cousin, Mr Joshua Nyathi (62) said he not only grew up with the late Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi but also learnt with him from Grade One to Five at Mapate Primary School. He said they separated in Grade 6.

He said his late cousin was always top of the class.

Mr Nyathi said when they went for training in Zambia, the late Maj-Gen Nyathi was quickly enrolled because he was intelligent.

"Growing up, we were a group of four cousins.

We went to school together, played together and did almost everything together.

Sikhulile was the most intelligent one and this helped him progress in life.

He was the shortest among us but he was the brightest.

I learnt a lot from my brother's personality and character.

His noble character and intelligence is what saw him attain great heights that we can only dream of reaching," he said.

Another cousin, Mr Naphthal Nyathi (62) said he also learnt at the same primary school with him.

He said while his cousin was younger than him, he was a level ahead of him in school as he was intelligent.

Mr Nyathi said while they struggled with their studies, the late Maj-Gen Nyathi cruised through.

He said he cannot recall a day when his cousin displayed violent behaviour.

"While most of us were struggling in school and repeating grades Sikhulile just cruised through.

While some of us were fooling around he was concentrating on reading his books.

He was always focused and dedicated," said Mr Naphthal Nyathi.

He said the late Rtd Maj-Gen Nyathi started his secondary in 1973 at Manama Mission.

He said in January 1977, the late Maj-Gen Nyathi was among youths that were transported to Zambia for military training.

He said they trained together in Zambia from April to October 1977 and in March 1978 they were moved to Freedom Camp in Lusaka, Zambia where they did commissariat studies.

In October, the late national hero went for further military training in the then Soviet Union.

"I tried to keep up pace with my brother Sikhulile but once again because of his great intellect he moved on to train in the Soviet Union and that's when we parted ways.

The greatest lesson which my brother left is that if you are being told something you have to listen, if you didn't hear something well inquire and if something doesn't sit well with you be open about it but in a peaceful manner.

Wherever you can make a contribution do so," he said.

The late hero's cousin said while his cousin went on to occupy high military posts, he never forgot his roots and the people he grew up with.

He said the late Maj-Gen Nyathi's doors were always open to his community and his family.

Burial has been set for Monday.

After the heartfelt farewell ceremony, the body of the late Maj-Gen Nyathi left his homestead at 2:20PM for Gwanda Aerodrome and just after 4PM, the journey back to Harare started.

Maj-General Nyathi is survived by a wife and three children.

Source - The Chronicle