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Bulilima's longest serving headman collapses, dies

BULILIMA'S longest serving headman, Sikhathini born Mlefu Goliatky Somfula (81), has died.

Headman Sikhathini collapsed and died at his homestead on Wednesday last week.

Bulilima District Administrator, Mrs Ethel Moyo said headman Sikhathini who had served for 48 years, has been declared a liberation hero and will be buried at his homestead today.

She said out of the 14 headmen in the district, headman Sikhathini had served the longest.

"It's with great sadness that I announce the passing of headman Sikhathini who was one of our traditional leaders in the district. He has been declared a liberation hero and will be buried tomorrow at his homestead in Sikhathini area.

"Out of all the headmen that we have in the district, headman Sikhathini had served the longest as he started serving in 1968. His term was regularised in 1997," she said.

Mrs Moyo described headman Sikhathini's death as a huge blow not only to his family but the entire district. She said he was one of Bulilima's iconic figures.

"Headman Sikhathini was a wise, diligent, hardworking, outspoken, development oriented leader and a goal achiever. He will leave a huge gap in the community and his absence will be greatly felt," she said.

His son, Mr Sibhekekhona Somfula said his father died on Wednesday last week.

Mr Somfula said his father tried to eat but started coughing non-stop and a few minutes later collapsed and died.

"My father's death was so sudden and it has left the family devastated. When he left home in the morning he was fine and he even attended several meetings.

"In the evening when we returned he was not well. We suspect that he could have suffered a heart attack or hypertension. We are yet to receive the post mortem report to ascertain the real cause of his death," he said.

Headman Sikhathini's area of jurisdiction covered Tjankwa, Gwambe, Nyabane and Vamba areas. He was working under Chief Kandana with 26 village heads within his area of jurisdiction.

Headman Sikhathini assumed his father's duties in 1968 and replaced him in 1970 after he fell ill. Following the death of Chief Thomas Langa Mpini in 1999 he was appointed acting Chief Mpini, a position which he held for five years. He reverted to his position of headman in 2004 until his death.


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