Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
A PROMINENT Bulawayo philanthropist, John William Khaliyati, has died.
He was 81.
A founding member of Harvest House International Church, Khaliyati died of cancer at Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo last Thursday.
Mrs Agrinah Khaliyati described her husband as a loving and supportive man.
“He has been nothing but loving for the 54 years that we shared in our marriage. He gave up his good job at the NRZ in the 90s to join me in ministering to God’s people. He was a hard worker, very supportive and fatherly to the whole community. He resigned from a prestigious position at the time, to look after the destitute. That was his calling,” said Mrs Khaliyati.
Khaliyati joined the Rhodesian Railways as a fireman in 1960. He was promoted to be a driver in 1962 when he moved to Zambia during the federation period. He moved back to Zimbabwe in 1981 and was an inspector at the National Railways of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.
Mrs Khaliyati said her family took part in the liberation struggle in Zambia.
“We never held the guns, but we fought along with the freedom fighters. We had a farm along the Zambezi in Livingstone which we gave up to the ZIPRA force at the height of the armed struggle. We left our cattle, goats and pigs for the comrades to have a hideout and some food.
“I was a nurse and assisted with medical expertise whenever I could at the camp hospital. The forces stayed at our farm for a couple of years until Independence. The farm was convenient as it was situated just where they crossed the Zambezi River back to Zimbabwe,” she said.
After Independence, the Khaliyatis operated a soup kitchen at the Bulawayo railway station.
They also opened the Indlu yokukhanya/ Lighthouse Old People’s home in Esigodini where they looked after destitute senior citizens, but there are plans to turn it into a children’s home.
In 1997, they opened Lighthouse Hospital which they ran for 11 years until 2008. The hospital was eventually taken over by the Premier Service Medical Aid Society.
Khaliyati is survived by wife, Agrinah, four children and eight grandchildren.
Mourners are gathered at Number 148 Marimba road, Matsheumhlope, Bulawayo. He is expected to be buried on Saturday. A church service will be at the main Harvest House International branch along George Silundika Street.