WAR veteran and former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) staffer, Raymond Tapfumaneyi who died in April this year, is scheduled for a pauper’s burial in Birmingham despite having close relatives, including a brother, also living in the UK.
Birmingham City Council was forced into the option after relatives allegedly failed to claim Tapfumaneyi’s remains which lay in a local morgue for almost four months following his death.
Sources said relatives were not keen to spend their own funds on the funeral; they also appeared uninterested in seeking help from the Zimbabwean community in the UK although many indicated a willingness to assist.
Asked why he was allowing his brother to be subjected to the ignominy of a pauper’s burial, Tapfumaneyi’s brother, Dumi, claimed that this was Raymond’s wish, adding that the matter was none of NewZimbabwe.com’s business.
And, after getting furious at being challenged over the issue, Dumi then threatened this journalist with death if the story was published, claiming that the Tapfumaneyi family was highly connected in Zimbabwe. Listen to the threats below:
Raymond, NewZimbabwe.com has established, lost his battle against cancer at St Mary’s Hospice in Birmingham on April 23, this year. Investigations have established he worked for ZBC in the 1980s and, possibly, the early 1990s.
His body has remained in a mortuary unclaimed since his passing, despite the fact that he has several close relatives in the UK.
Apart from younger brother Dumi, who is a senior community mental health nurse, Raymond’s former wife reportedly runs a recruitment company in London where she lives with one of their children. It was also claimed that Raymond’s his father lives in Mabvuku, Harare.
Before passing on the former broadcaster is said to have asked St Mary’s Hospice to arrange an Adventist burial in line with his upbringing in Zimbabwe.
And, in an effort to honour his wishes, the hospice approached a Birmingham Adventist Church which, upon realizing the deceased was a Zimbabwean, approached his compatriots among its congregants.-
A church elder then alerted the Zimbabwean community in the UK about Raymond’s lamentable fate via social media.
Reads the elder’s text:
“There is a 59-year-old man who died of cancer in Birmingham. His name is Raymond Tapfumaneyi. He will be buried by the state.
“Before he died, he requested an Adventist funeral. He wasn’t attached to any Adventist church and was probably not Adventist member. His burial is on Monday.
“No one seems to know any of his relatives. If you know him, please get in touch. Please also forward to all your Zimbabwean family, friends & associates. Thank you.”
The text was widely circulated, resulting in the identification of Dumi as a close relation of the decease.”
In one correspondence seen by NewZimbabwe.com, Dumi was confronted with the above message and he rudely dismissed the issue, labelling the wider Zimbabwean community as “low lives who have nothing to do”.
“You see maZimba, vatanga mabasa avo ma low lives. They have nothing 2 do. I wonder kuti ndiani muroyi iyeyu asina ma morals.
“They always want 2 make other people’s business theirs. Pane ari kuda kuita bak,” he responded.
But as public outrage increased, the family issued a statement via social media on Thursday morning which read:
“Funeral Announcement: Please be informed that Raymond Tapfumaneyi will be laid to rest on Monday. All relatives, friends and close associates have been informed accordingly.
“There’s information circulating which is very irrelevant and we suspect it’s a scam. It is inappropriate, vile, malicious and destructive. It’s causing stress and frustration in our family.
“Please be informed that Raymond belonged to a family in the UK and abroad. We vehemently disassociate ourselves from the circulating information. He is going to have a dignified and peaceful send off from those who loved him without interference from outsiders.
“As a family we would appreciate your prayers as we grieve our sad loss of a brother, father and granddad loved by many. We least expected this during our time of mourning. Please respect the family wishes.”
The family did not to put contact names and numbers on the statement, but Dumi’s daughter, Tafadzwa Tapfumaneyi of Wolverhampton told NewZimbabwe.com that they were “a very big family with over forty of them in the UK alone and are well-up enough to give their loved one a dignified send-off without resorting to community intervention”.
However, documents seen by NewZimbabwe.com indicate that it is actually the Birmingham City Council which is organising Raymond’s burial at Kings Norton Cemetery on Monday, August 15, with the family, if attending, just invitees
NewZimbabwe.com called a Birmingham City Council official on Thursday who confirmed that the local authority was dealing with the burial matter as a public health funeral because the family were either unable or unwilling to finance it.
Challenged with evidence indicating that, contrary to the family’s claims, Birmingham city council was conducting a pauper’s burial for Raymond, Dumi insisted that this was his brother’s wish, adding that there was nothing untoward about the resort to public funds:
Some of Raymond’s friends contacted by NewZimbabwe.com, expressing shock at the developments with most blaming Dumi for “clandestinely proceeding with a public health/state burial arrangement without asking for the wider family’s intervention.
A number of Zimbabweans had also expressed willingness to rescue the situation if someone could start a “#GetRaymondHome” campaign.-Newzimbabwe.com