Teachers commemorate lives lost during Covid-19

Members of the Cape Town Retired Teachers’ Club in full song at Nonzwakazi Methodist Church.

The coronavirus pandemic has left an indelible mark on communities, families and people of all ages and from all walks of life. The community of Gugulethu is one such community that suffered the brunt of the deadly Covid-19 wave.

Those who lost their loved ones still remember vividly what the pandemic did to them and their close relatives.

On Human Rights Day, Monday March 21, Covid-19 victims from all backgrounds came to meet at the Nonzwakazi Methodist Church in Gugulethu to remember the lives of teacher colleagues lost.

The event, organised by the Cape Town Retired Teachers’ Club, was praised and deemed a big therapy for the families of the deceased.

Throughout the event speakers from both the families and former teachers described the deceased as people who have been working so diligently and selflessly to care for the community of Gugulethu and their families. Former colleagues, friends and loved ones paid tribute to the dedication, professionalism and passion each individual brought to their role.

One of the organisers of the event, Nobomi Mazwi, said they saw it fit and right to remember the lives on Human Rights Day. She said because of the pandemic and its restrictions, they could not attend or visit the families of the dead so it was the right time to do something in their memory.

“We thought this year, before we start doing anything, let us look at our late brothers and sisters whom we could not bury. We never closed this chapter, so we needed the closure. We are not opening up the wounds but we want the families to see that we care for each other in this organisation,” she said.

She appealed to the club and its members to continue the good work, that of caring and loving each other and the community of Gugulethu.

Ms Mazwi said some families are still grieving and they need comfort. “It was important to come together like this and remember them. In a way we are honouring them. These are people that we worked with at school, community and in this club. They were committed to the cause of helping other people. We valued them and we still value them even though they are no more,” said Ms Mazwi.

She added that they died working helping and educating people and they were natural educators She urged the former teachers to always visit the families of the dead when they have time until they get the comfort that they need.

Even though their deaths have left a void in their families’ lives and that of their children, the families said they all remained proud of their deceased loved ones’ participation in the community and in the education industry.

The family of the late Cyril Mandindi said it was good for the club to honour those who have passed away.

Mr Mandindi’s sister Nobantu Peter and his daughter Yandi Mandindi took the podium and said the day gave a voice to all the loved ones that have been lost.

“As a family, we feel honoured and consoled by the service to memorialise my father’s memory and other members. As much as this moment took us back to when we lost him, we are happy knowing he died doing what he loved most. It excites us that his friends and colleagues still remember him. I think as different families we are healed and consoled. My father was a very zealous man, very active and loving,” said the daughter.

Ms Peter remembered her brother as a good singer who loved his family.

A member of the club, Mzilikazi Synman-Tshuka, said they have learnt a lot from the deceased. She said the club was left empty with their deaths, especially at a difficult time when no one could visit or attend the funerals. “They loved life. They loved this club and its work. But more importantly, they loved their communities.

“That is why we are here to celebrate their lives. We want them to see that even beyond the grave, they are still part of us,” she concluded.

Families packed Nonzwakazi Methodist Church to commemorate their loved ones.
Nobantu Peter and Yandi Mandindi at the event.
Nobomi Mazwi is humbled to have played a role in comforting the families of those who died during the coronavirus pandemic and its resultant lockdown rules.