JOHANNESBURG-BASED Queens and Kings Funeral Parlour’s gesture to repatriate the bodies of 22 Zimbabweans who perished in a disused mine in South Africa cannot go unnoticed.
The bodies had been stuck in South Africa because relatives of the deceased from areas such as Gokwe, Kezi and Nkayi had no money to repatriate them.
Some Zimbabweans in the Diaspora had already been mobilising funds to help the relatives of the dead to meet the funeral expenses when Queens and Kings chipped in.
Roy Ncube, the funeral parlour’s chairman said they responded after colleagues of the deceased sent out a distress call to the company seeking food and blankets.
There are conflicting reports about the reasons the young Zimbabweans were at the mine where they died after inhaling dangerous gasses.
Original reports indicated that they were searching for gold at the abandoned mine.
However, a new dimension has emerged that the Zimbabweans, most of them who were in South Africa illegally, were trying to evade arrest.
South African police were reportedly waiting for the miners to emerge from the shaft to arrest them, as they had no proper documentation to live in that country, some reports have alleged.
The mass deaths serve to illustrate the desperation characterising most of Zimbabwe’s young people today.
It should be a lesson to South African law enforcement authorities that terrorising suspected illegal immigrants is not in any way an effective way of controlling illegal immigration.
Finally, the Zimbabwean government has a lot to learn from the tragedy especially in the way it handled the deaths.
The government has declared such incidents before national disasters so that it could mobilise enough resources to assist the bereaved.
In this case the government did not show any sign that it was concerned about the tragedy, leaving the task to console the bereaved relatives to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.
Queens and Kings Funeral Parlour needs to be acknowledged in a very big way for stepping into the plate to help the desperate families.
The gesture shows that the parlour is serious about its social responsibility since most of its clients are Zimbabweans based in South Africa.
May its intervention be an inspiration to many corporates that are yet to find a way of giving back to communities that support their businesses.