Ray Bande Senior Reporter
THE funeral wake of Sakubva’s own version of Mother Teresa brought the sprawling suburb to a standstill on Monday afternoon as mourners thronged the tarmac in dance and song welcoming the body of the late Mrs Merjury Hapezu (nee Sabamba).
She was 69. Always walking barefooted in the Central Business District even though she dressed in relatively expensive apparel, Mrs Hapezu, who gained popularity over the years owing to her philanthropy and political activism, died on Sunday and was laid to rest at Dangamvura Cemetery on Tuesday.
Close relatives of the deceased including her children and grandchildren had a torrid time as mourners besieged them trying to remove their shoes to emulate their departed family member. Mrs Hapezu was one of the earliest people to venture into timber off-cuts trade and construction of makeshift cabins, a business project she pursued until the time of her death.
In their eulogies, speaker after speaker praised the late great-grandmother for her unconditional love for those around her including strangers. At one point, Mrs Hapezu even drew the ire of her own children when she took care of a mentally challenged person under her roof.
However, it was the events of Monday afternoon that touched passers-by who watched in awe as mourners sang on top of their voices while asking for cash contributions from those driving along roads in Sakubva leading to her McGrecor Section. The late Mrs Hapezu was an active member of the ruling Zanu-PF where she participated in the commissariat department at district level.
Speaking during the funeral, her daughter, Adelia, said she never understood her mother’s philanthropic works until the time of her death.
“My mother had a different character. She was not that easy to understand especially for us as her children. I vividly remember how she attached too much importance to the welfare of others than her own, even of her own children. We could not understand how she could take care of mentally challenged people and at one time almost living under the same roof with one mentally challenged person she wanted to assist. She had so much love for people. She could make sure visitors are always well taken care of. We as children would try by all means to hide foodstuffs for visitors, but she would have none of that. I really want to thank her for the lessons that she taught us, most of which we never understood until now,” she said.
One of her grandchildren, Shalom Mhlanga, said she was never shy of her grandmother even though she walked around without shoes.
“I was never shy to point out to anyone that she was my grandmother even though she walked around without shoes because she was a woman of substance who resembled something much more important in life than just shoes,” she said.
Cde Cecilia Gambe, who spoke on behalf of Zanu-PF, said the late Mrs Hapezu was not a pretender.
“I wish we could all learn from Mrs Hapezu. She was not a pretender at all. If she loved you she would smile at you wholeheartedly and if she did not like you she did not mince her words. That is trait that I admired in her. She was a very active member of the party and as we are all aware the commissariat department in Zanu-PF is not meant for weak cadres. She would work hard to mobilise supporters for the party. The history of Zanu-PF in Manicaland can never be told without mention of this district and in this district we can never tell the history of Zanu-PF without giving mention of people like Mrs Hapezu. She was our hero. It is only that things were hurriedly done, but all things being equal we would have loved to have her declared a provincial heroine,” she said.