Prominent Cleric Suffers Covid-19 Death While Preparing To Bury Mum

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

Victoria Falls: A renowned pastor of the Shepherd Bushiri led Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) in the resort city died on Sunday night from Covid-19 related complications, hours before a planned burial for his mother who died from a different ailment last Wednesday.

Pastor Pinias Sibanda (41) was the head pastor for the main ECG church in Victoria Falls since the Bushiri congregation in Victoria Falls split a few years ago.

He was also one of the members of the Victoria Falls Covid-19 Taskforce in which he was actively involved in humanitarian work distributing food and other needs to ordinary citizens including those affected by the global pandemic.

The local Taskforce confirmed his death in a statement Monday morning.

“One of the members of our Taskforce group passed away from Covid-19 last night,” read the condolence message accompanied by Pastor Sibanda’s portrait.

Those close to the late cleric said Pastor Sibanda tested positive for Covid-19 and had an underlying sugar diabetes condition which complicated his ailment.

Pastor Sibanda, a twin with his brother Piniel, grew up in Victoria Falls and learnt at Mosi-oa-Tunya High School.

Both were running a curio and jewellery shop in the resort city.

Their aged mother died on Wednesday and her burial was set for Monday morning, some hours after his death Sunday night.

He was the second church leader to die of Covid-19 in a week after Pastor Chisengu Khumalo, known as Prophetess Deborah of the Tabernacle of Tabernacles Church succumbed to the virus last week and was buried last Wednesday in Victoria Falls.

Police had to be called in with dogs to disperse a large crowd of about 1 000 mourners who had gathered at the Chinotimba cemetery for the burial as Victoria Falls residents defied government lockdown restriction for burial gatherings not to exceed 30 people.

The two deaths come as the resort city has witnessed a new wave in Covid-19 cases since the Christmas holidays, with over 100 active cases recorded.

The whole of Matabeleland North had 464 active cases, with a cumulative 987 cases including seven deaths as at Sunday.