Friday, 28 August 2015


AT exactly 2:35PM yesterday, football legend Willard Mashinkila Khumalo’s coffin was lowered into the grave at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo before thousands of mourners.

Khumalo was buried next to well-known Bulawayo lawyer and former footballer Joseph James after several emotional graveside eulogies. Khumalo died at the United Bulawayo Hospitals in the early hours of Sunday after a long battle with diabetes.Mourners started gathering at McDonald Hall in Mzilikazi as early as 6:30AM for the funeral that started just after 8AM when Khumalo’s coffin was brought into the hall.The hall could not accommodate all the mourners and hundreds stood outside following procedures through speakers mounted outside the hall.
Addressing mourners, Football Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Paul Gundani called for the establishment of a sports industry pension fund that players could fall back on when they hang up their boots.“I want to say this to the honourable Minister of Sports (Andrew Langa); is it sufficient to honour us when we are dead? Can’t the government come in and assist us to improve our welfare as players and coaches? We need a fund that will specifically cater for players when their playing days are over because honestly we are dying. Let’s fight for the welfare of players,” said Gundani.
Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda also said there was need to come up with a pension fund for players to turn to when their careers are over.“Willard, just like his other colleagues, was a brand for the Highlanders and national teams, but as a person, was he a brand? Why are we celebrating his life when he is dead? Players need to have a pension just like other workers,” said Sibanda.Minister Langa concurred saying the government will start treating sport as an industry and not just mere entertainment.
“We need to take sport as a business so that after your playing days you can be able to look after yourself and family. So I challenge the Premier Soccer League and Zifa to come up with laws that will see to it that our players are protected when they retire from football,” said Minister Langa.
Khumalo’s close friends Rahman Gumbo, Madinda Ndlovu and Sydney Zimunya delivered emotional eulogies that left hundreds in tears. “To me, Willard has rested because what he went through in the last three years was hell. I remember at one time at Luveve Stadium, I greeted Ernest Maphepha and I could not even recognise Willard. That’s how bad it was, so this is why I’m saying he has truly rested,” said Ndlovu. Former Bosso goalkeeper, Zimunya delivered the most emotional tribute when he told mourners that he was now the only surviving member of the “Bushwackers”, a trio comprising Khumalo, Mercedes “Rambo” Sibanda and him.
“I stand before you ladies and gentleman with a sad heart as the only surviving member of the Bushwackers. All my friends are now gone,” said Zimunya before breaking down. From McDonald Hall, Khumalo’s body was taken to Barbourfields Stadium before the funeral cortege headed to Lady Stanley Cemetery in the afternoon. Former Highlanders players took turns to be pallbearers as they bade farewell to their former teammate and coach. Among the mourners were former Highlanders chairmen Silas Ndlovu, Roger Muhlwa and Kennedy Ndebele as well as the entire Highlanders executive committee and board members.

A number of Highlanders’ past and present players, among them Chibuku Trophy winners Billy Sibanda and Edward Dzowa and ex-coaches Cosmos Zulu and Barry Daka. There was also a heavy presence of football legends that played alongside Khumalo in the national team such as Agent Sawu, Moses Chunga, Carlos Max, Misheck Chidzambwa, Standford “Stix” Mutizwa, Albert “Dalala” Mabika, Norman Mapeza and Lloyd Mutasa. Also present was High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, Zimbabwe’s iron lady of football Hentrieta Rushwaya, PSL president Twine Phiri, Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze, former Zifa administrator Lazarus Mhurushomana, Senators Angeline Masuku and Matson Hlalo, MPs Joe Tshuma (Mpopoma) and Godfrey Malaba (Pumula) as well the Dynamos Bulawayo Supporters’ Chapter. chronicle


Post a Comment