Mourners pay respects to beloved Khoza

Khanyisile Nkosi

Humphrey Khoza's funeral service on Saturday was the kind of send-off befitting that of a beloved man and church leader, one characterised by songs of praise and worship.

Thousands of mourners who gathered at the Thokoza Auditorium heard how Khoza, former chief executive of Uthingo, had dedicated his life to the Lord and alleviated the plight of the underprivileged.

Ordained as a bishop in 1972, Khoza was also the bishop of the Holy Apostolic Church.

Khoza, 59, was killed when he lost control of his luxury vehicle during stormy weather near Comaro Road, south of Johannesburg, a week ago.

Speakers described him as a pioneer, a mentor and a great leader. Dignitaries who attended the funeral included Justice Minister Bridget Mabandla, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, Ekurhuleni mayor Duma Nkosi, Gauteng's Old Mutual chief executive Khehla Mthembu and Uthingo boss Oupa Monamodi.

Speaking at the service, Bongani Khumalo, chairman of Gidani Consortium and Khoza's close friend, said he would always remember Khoza as a "great mentor".

Fighting back the tears, Khumalo said Khoza's dream as chief executive of Uthingo "had been to create opportunities for people for whom the national lottery was established".

Pastors and representatives from the Holy Apostolic Church in the different provinces also praised Khoza's leadership.

"He had a vision for this church. He laid a strong foundation, all that is left is for us to continue the struggle," said one pastor.

Singing the song: Because He lives, I will face tomorrow Khoza's widow, Thandi, dressed in her church uniform, said her belief in God had made her stronger. She said she had decided to speak up to assure church members that her husband's death did not mean the end of the church.

She then introduced bishop Petros Hlope and his wife to the congregation as her husband's successor.

She said Khoza had anointed Hlope as the church's new bishop at the bishops conference held in Newcastle two weeks before he died.

She asked the pastors present to lay their hands on the newly appointed bishop. As church members sang Khoza's favourite hymn iMvana eyophayo yahlatshelwa thina the widow led them as they surrounded Khoza's coffin.

Khoza leaves behind his wife, two children Qiniso and Qinisile, four grandchildren, five sisters and one brother. He was laid to rest at Southpark Cemetery in Boksburg.