Hundreds of Masvingo residents Thursday ignored the government’s lockdown restrictions to give prominent bus operator Tanda ‘Mhunga’ Tavaruva a fitting send-off at a local cemetery.
Mdara Mhunga, as the businessman was affectionately known, died aged 84 at his plush Rhodene home in Masvingo Monday afternoon after a long illness.
He was declared a provincial liberation hero by the ruling Zanu PF party.
Government has limited the number of mourners per funeral to just 50.
But that was not to be with Mhunga whose funeral drew hundreds of mourners from across the area.
The mood was electric at the funeral wake of one of the most celebrated businesspersons in Masvingo.
Tavaruva was famed for running a successful transport empire with his Mhunga branded buses plying many major routes in the country during its peak.
In football circles, the Masvingo community is ever indebted by the late businessman’s contributions towards the establishment of a viable community team, Masvingo United which went on to compete favourably in the country’s premier league.
Tavaruva’s death came as a shock to the Masvingo community, with people from all walks of life; among them touts, business community, politicians and soccer personalities thronging his home to condole with the family.
Police who came to the funeral wake refrained from disturbing the sombre mood, electing to only encourage mourners to stand at least two metres apart as per WHO recommendations against the spread of coronavirus.
But numbers still continued to surge.
“How can I be stopped to pay my last respect to a man who spotted me roaming around beerhalls in Mucheke and gave me my first job as a bus loader soon after leaving High School,” said one transport operator.
“As worked, I was later promoted to be a conductor and he encouraged me to have a driver’s licence, and through his guardianship after his company closed, I managed to own a commuter minibus and I am now into the transport industry because of mdara Mhunga.”
Mourners fondly told stories of the late businessman extending a helping hand to the Masvingo community, from the elite to the most vulnerable.