Roar of Bayethe' at funeral
MALINDZA – His Majesty King Mswati III was deeply touched by the manner in which William Tsabedze had to die.
Speaking on behalf of the King was a senior army official who represented him.
Lieutenant Raphael Mnisi offered words of encouragement to the deceased’s family, praying that God be with them in this dark hour.
"BoTsabedze, iNkhosi iyani-khalela, kuyivise buhlungu loku lokwentekile," he said, meaning, "The King has sent us to comfort you. He is deeply pained by what has befallen the family).
A similar message from royalty was directed to the area’s chief’s kraal, which was said to have lost a man who was diligent and was ever to be trusted with whatever tusk entrusted on him.
He then shouted the customary, ‘Bayethe!’ (Hail the King) afterwards, igniting a loud response from the mourners inside the packed tent.
The mourners also shouted, ‘Bayethe!’
Another message delivered at the graveyard was from Army Commander Sobantu Dlamini.
"Tsabedze was still considered in army circles a soldier and could have been recalled for duty anytime," said Mnisi, who was also standing in for the Army Commander.
Close to 3 000 people were at the funeral.
Tsabedze served in the army for a lengthy 25 years, having joined in 1977 before he retired in 2002.
While in the army, he extensively served royalty, both as a guard and escort.
Like the true soldier he was, Tsabedze, who was killed during a robbery at the Riverstone Mall in Manzini on a Monday, two weeks ago, was buried at the Lawini community cemetery in Malindza yesterday morning, amid praises for putting up a gallant fight till the end.
He was killed when miscreants posing as customers suddenly let fly a hail of bullets, before making away with about E1 million in cash.
The deceased was among employees of Cash Security Services who were transporting money retrieved from a Standard Bank ATM situated at the Riverstone Mall. The thugs are said to have used a white Golf sedan as a getaway.
Former colleagues in the army described the late Tsabedze as a hero who died in his line of duty.
"When we joined the army in 1977 together with the deceased, we undertook an oath that we would live by the gun and also die by the gun," narrated Joshua Dlamini, a Cash Security Services employee, who ironically also served in the army together with the deceased.
This was during the vigil inside the tent that was pitched inside the family compound.
The funeral itself was some kind of a celebration of the life of a fallen hero, who is said to have served his masters so diligently that they prayed for the emergence of someone within the Tsabedze family who would take up the flame, making sure that his legacy lives on.
"Before I go on any further, I would like to clarify something which was earlier said by the speaker before me about the army. "It is true, in the army when you take an oath you agree to live by the gun and also die by it," emphasised Army Chaplain Steven Mkhatjwa, while also making an effort to ease mourners who seemed baffled by the continued reference to something which ultimately put paid to Tsabedze’s celebrated life.
The soldier expressed relief at the fact that, as soldiers, they had descended on the lowveld of Malindza to bury someone who died like a true soldier – by bullet – as opposed to the funerals they attend of late, where a colleague would have fallen victim to either alcohol abuse or in some instances the devastating scourge of HIV/AIDS – which phenomena was never accommodated in the oath they take at inception of army duty.
"The only depressing aspect of his death is that when he died he was no longer an employee of the army," he said, before swiftly making a clarification that Tsabedze was still considered as part and parcel of the force.
"In fact, in the army you never retire. The person we are burying this morning was an army reservist, and that is the reason why you see us here with you," he told mourners.
Proceedings at Tsabedze’s funeral were dominated by army personnel, who at some point, during their arrival at the homestead halted proceedings at the tent where a vigil was held.
This was at about midnight when a contingent of 27 soldiers stormed in, in full army gear, unexpectedly.
Mourners by then were in a song, but the soldiers came in singing their own, leaving them baffled as to what was happening.
Without indicating to anyone, they went straight into the house where the body of their late friend and colleague lay motionless inside the casket, oblivious of whatever was going on in the surroundings.
It was later explained to everyone that the soldiers were fulfilling one of the rituals they usually follow in such ceremonies.
About 10 minutes after they were done, security guards from his last place of employ also followed suit, mourners had to wait, before resuming the normal service.
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