THE late national hero, Major-General (Rtd) Sikhulile Simpson Nyathi, who was buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday, was described as an intelligent and quiet soldier who stood firm for justice and defended Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Maj-Gen (Rtd) Nyathi died at Josiah Magama Tongogara Barracks Referral Hospital in Harare last Sunday. He was 61.
Relatives and colleagues yesterday described him as an unwavering cadre who dedicated his entire life to defending the country from the yoke of colonial bondage.
Thousands of people gathered at the national shrine to bid farewell to the late national hero.
Some banners at the national burial shrine were inscribed: “Go well our gallant freedom fighter”, “Unwavering cadre of the struggle”’, “Lala ngokuthula mkhululi welizwe” and “Defender of the revolution”.
The late national hero crossed into Zambia via Botswana for military training together with Beitbridge East legislator Cde Albert Nguluve and the late national hero, former Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo.
The three were also together at Manama Mission High School in Gwanda South.
Maj-Gen (Rtd) Nyathi held key positions in the army and rose through the ranks including being Major in 1984, Lieutenant Colonel in 1990, Colonel in 1997, Brigadier General in 2010 and Major General in 2020.
He also attended several ZNA courses and attained numerous medals for his continued dedication, selfless and exemplary service to the nation.
Some youths and women were chanting revolutionary songs from the start of his burial proceedings to the end, as they bade farewell to one of their liberators who sacrificed his life in service of his country.
Speaking during the burial of the late national hero, family representative, Colonel Samuel Nyathi, said Maj-Gen (Rtd) Nyathi was an honest, responsible, team builder who was also inspirational to the family and country at large.
“His death has left a gap which is difficult to fill. He was an epitome of wisdom within the family. He spent most of his life serving the country,” said Col Nyathi.
He also described the late Maj-Gen Nyathi as a fountain of wisdom.
Col Nyathi commended President Mnangagwa and the entire Zanu PF leadership for conferring him with national hero status.
His teacher at Manama Mission, Cde Obert Matshalaga, said Maj-Gen (Rtd) Nyathi was an intelligent student.
“He was the best brains then. To be recognised during the Rhodesian era showed that he was a genius.
“I was his teacher at Manama High School. He was a very intelligent boy and from there one could tell that he was destined for greater heights. He was a fighter, an unwavering cadre of the liberation struggle,” said Cde Matshalaga.
One of his close friends, Col Temizulu Ncube, said the late national hero was a dedicated cadre who served his country diligently.
“I met the late national hero at school in Gwanda South. We were very close growing up. He was from a big family and we are in a way related. He did well for the family and the country as a whole. We left the country to join the liberation struggle and we met after independence. He remained a soft-spoken individual,” said Col Ncube.
He said the late veteran of the liberation struggle was a survivor of Freedom Camp bombing by the racist Ian Smith government.
“He was a survivor. He also served in a number of units in the Zimbabwe National Army. His death has left the country poorer. He was very humble and unassuming,” said Col Ncube.
Another contemporary of his, Brigadier General Mpulaeng Siziba, said although they were at different schools, it was clear the late Maj-Gen was an intelligent person.
“We grew up in the same area, though we went to different schools. As we interacted you could tell that he was an intelligent person. We later met at military training. He was my senior but he was a humble man whose intelligence was unmatched,” said Brig Gen Siziba.
Zanu PF Matabeleland South provincial chairman Cde Mangaliso Ndlovu said youths should learn from the good works of the late national hero.
“We are really happy as a province with the status accorded to the late national hero. He put our province on the map. We are celebrating a life lived by a cadre. A life lived by a true hero.
“As children of Matabeleland South, we will continue to follow his footsteps. We will continue to encourage young people to remain patriotic. They should put their country first regardless of what is happening. This is our country, our only country,” said Cde Ndlovu.
An executive member of Young Women for ED, Ms Apphia Musavengana, said youths should always put their country first in whatever they are doing.
“This is a very sad moment for us, to lose our history tellers. He left a legacy which we will continue cherishing. We now have freedom of expression because of his sacrifices. We are now enjoying a free Zimbabwe,” she said.
Ms Musavengana called on youths to defend the country’s sovereignty through voting for the ruling party, Zanu PF.
“Our war as youths is through the ballot box. We should defend our country’s sovereignty through voting. Let’s guard the legacy left by Major-General (Rtd) Nyathi,” she said.
The burial was attended by Politburo members, Cabinet ministers, service chiefs, senior Government officials, Parliamentarians, and church representatives among others.
Maj-Gen (Rtd) Nyathi is survived by his wife and three children.