TOUTS, prostitutes, alleged drug dealers, vendors and suspected gamblers yesterday left Chitungwiza residents awestruck as they paraded the body of a late colleague, Lazarus Chimwendo (30), who was knocked down by a kombi fleeing a blitz by the Harare City Council.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Involved in the drama was a big convoy of pirate taxis, commuter omnibuses and private vehicles that drove at high speed forcing oncoming vehicles out of the road or to change routes to avoid crashes.
The touts tried by all means to emulate the life of a tout, as they ferried Chimwendo’s coffin while imbibing illicit beer and openly smoking mbanje.
The three-hour procession started in St Mary’s Manyame Park to the Chigovanyika area, Zengeza 2, then 4 up to C junction before turning to Manyame Bridge as they headed towards the new cemetery.
There was loud music from commuter omnibuses and a live performance by popular Zimdancehall musician Hwindi President while others took the illicit Broncleer, commonly referred to as “bronco”.
The coffin was placed on top of commuter omnibuses, taxis and sometimes, the touts would interchangeably ferry it.
Unlike common sacred treatment usually given to a coffin, mourners would place it down and start smoking dagga and taking bronco, leaving it for a while for others at the back of the procession to ferry it.
Many apostolic sect members worshipping along the road were left in awe as Chimwendo was led to his final resting place.
That was the big send-off from the Hwindi Family, an association for touts, and residents who ended up joining in.
“Chimwendo was one of us. He was a tout along Julius Nyerere Way in town before he was knocked down on Sunday. He died a few hours later in Chitungwiza, but we have to show the world that as touts we have a special way to say good bye to one of us,” Taurai Kamelu, a tout, said.
“This procession comprises touts, drug dealers, vendors, drivers, gamblers, and artistes among others. The message is one and we want it to be clear to the world that we need respect in what we are doing to fend for our families.”
Others blamed the local authority for stamping hard on them.
“Look there are no jobs. You will be surprised to learn that there are qualified persons among us here. This is not out of choice, but we have to make ends meet. The procession is peaceful because we are non-violent people. All we want is to make money for our families,” Trust Chamunorwa, chairperson for the Hwindi Family, said.
“You will be surprised that council and ZRP are making a lot of money from what we do. They even budget money that they intend to collect from us. How then should they try to criminalise us to such an extent that a single blitz always results in injuries and sometimes fatal ones?”
He added: “Instead of chasing us they should deal with real problems like corruption and finding other ways to create employment. As an association we are happy with the send-off. It’s bigger than those of ministers. I’m sure the family is happy too.”
Chimwendo’s wife, Elizabeth Zambezi, said she was grateful for the send-off describing it as befitting.
“To me this was a well-deserved send-off. I am happy that his friends and workmates organised for such,” she said.
Chimwendo died on Sunday from injuries he sustained during a Harare City Council blitz in the capital after he was knocked down by a fleeing commuter omnibus the same day.