By Ndaba Nhuku| The late Bhekitshe Moyo’s story refuses to leave my mind. I seem stuck in imagining what was going through his mind up until he committed suicide. I am imagining the emotional, mental and physical pain he must have endured for him to sit down and pen the letters he did. The pain that drove him to kill himself must have been greater than imagined. We have all had these moments of wishing death to be a relief out of some of our problems in this journey of life. Most of us don’t go as far as killing ourselves. Those who at times do it, don’t usually leave elaborate letters to friends and government officials so detailed as Bheki did. The death of Bheki has left most of us stunned. The Zimbabwean community in the UK is in shock. I am yet to see the UK government reaction to the case. All I know is that it is common for asylum seekers to suffer from depression and some go as far as committing suicide which possibly could have happened with Bhekitshe. We are yet to hear what the findings of the government, or inquest will reveal about Bheki. UK is socially a very cold country for immigrants. It is worse so if you are stuck for years within the ruthless immigration system denying you the opportunity to work for yourself. Some people have spent almost two decades stuck in such a dark uncertain cloud. Eventually, some individuals may decide to take their own life; ‘when life is so burdensome, death has become for man a sought-after refuge.’
Who was Bhekitshe Moyo? Who is this man who was an all rounder; a banker, professional boxer, student of law, psychology and philosophy? Bheki was in the Manama area of Gwanda. He attended Nhana primary school. Bheki came from an underprivileged family which lived near one of Matabeleland’s famous but reasonably expensive school, Manama Mission. Bheki could not afford the fees at this school, and thus he travelled more than 20 kilometres to and from the nearest affordable school, Bethel Secondary. Bheki was hungry for education and to improve his family status. He subsequently completed his A’ level studies through long distance education. He relocated to South Africa where he proved his hard work and desire to improve his economic situation. Bheki was humble enough to sell tomatoes and mirrors in the streets of Johannesburg as he paid for his university long distance studies. He eventually attained his Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) in Banking and Insurance. Soon he got a job as a teller with ABSA bank in South Africa. He worked hard and rose through the ranks to become a branch manager. Working as banker, he had a passion he nursed; sportsmanship in particular boxing. He trained in boxing till he became a professional boxer. It was this professional boxing that led him into the UK when he got a Sports Visa. He loved and took part in many sports even in the UK, but mainly he lived for boxing. He was nicknamed ‘The Journeyman’ because he was willing to travel near and far at short notice, for the love for his sports. He also volunteered to train young people in the sports in his community. Bheki was all along renewing his UK visa through his sports visa. It is assumed that when he felt he had lived long enough to qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave that the immigration glitch came up. The rest is now answered by his letters he left us clutching in our attempt to understand him. In brief this is the story of Bheki. This is the story of the man whose death is a shock to us.
I am personally pained by Bhekitshe’s story for it shows the coldness in our society. We do not know each other. We do not know what is happening to each other. No. I don’t mean invading each other’s privacy! I mean, do we have enough support mechanism for our communities? Other than the numerous churches that seem to survive on how much we can put into them, yet are unwilling to help when we are down, where else can one go for support. Friends and family? It’s a terrible cold society in which everyone is away busy working and only back home to sleep. You can then imagine if the system has ruthlessly stripped you of the dignity to work and earn your own upkeep. Zimbabweans are generally a very very materialistic people, proud to work and accumulate possessions. You hardly find Zimbabweans who are thriving under the welfare benefit system. And I think Bheki did not qualify to be under the welfare system since he had been denied his visa, hence he had friends looking after him. Thus, imagine the pain he endured to watch his contemporaries forge ahead with their lives whilst he was stuck, penniless, in a dark cloud of uncertainty with all his energy sapping and his mental being tortured. The future was bleak and uncertain. He seemed to have been depressed, depression knows no advice, and normally listens to no one.
Clearly this was not a lazy man at all. He had worked before the system stopped him from doing so. He had volunteered in his community to train kids as a boxer; helping to take off the streets young kids from potential harm. As reports state, here was someone who was a banker back home. Here is someone who had studied psychology and abandoned his legal studies because of the immigration glitch. This was an intelligent man who had tried to do everything right by the book. Here was a man who clearly was suicidal and certainly required his immigration problems dealt with sensitively. The system didn’t see to it. NOONE DID. Here was a man who hung to a hundred pound he leaves to a friend whom he owed a loan he feels ashamed to have been unable to pay back. Here was a hands-on man who was helping in the house by putting up a shade; just like most Zimbabwean men would try to be hands-on. Here was a man who detested even being a burden to a system that had let him and many others down. Here was a man who knew that what he was doing was wrong and would pain his friend’s family and that ‘he would miss’ their kid. Still he had to do it? Why? The power that compelled him must have been far greater than the need to want to live. I can feel that pain. I can feel him reaching the point of no return because of the way the system was handling his issue. It is a psychological pain, the pain you cannot measure, the pain whose spot of concentration you cannot touch. It is a dark cloud in your being that you can’t turn back from.
Such an issue can affect anyone at any time. It can lead to anyone’s death at any time. It has caused many deaths and will still lead tom many more. Once you reach it, no one can easily stop its progression unless you get effective professional intervention. If you are an asylum seeker, I have listened and heard some of these professional alleging that, ‘he wants to exploit they system and use it to evade his immigration status.’ Was that how Bheki was finally treated at his hour of need? His letters adequately provide an answer to the question.
Fellow Zimbabweans, we can’t be cold to a man who chose not to kill himself but was forced by circumstances beyond his control, the way his immigration issue was handled. Many have travelled his journey and either lived here illegally or returned back home. For him, it appears the psychological pain over his immigration issue took over. The immigration brutality and insensitivity of the NHS allowed his decisions to spill out of control. Here was a broken man who saw no way out of his immigration, employment and future life. Is this the Bheki we are feeling sorry and yet abandoning by moving on to the next news? Will this death be the last to be triggered by problems we face in our daily lives? I doubt. Yesterday I was contacted by someone who said some road works on the motorway saved him from proceeding to drown himself in his car. This shows that we can all be affected by our various adverse health and socioeconomic situation at any time which can lead to death. Socio-economic problems we face such as immigration status as we have seen through Bheki, can force us to the edge. This is a man who has not only departed from this world because of its cold cruelty, but who has been let down by its various systems put in place to help people like him. This is a man we have let down as a society and as a community. Now that he is dead, we can only honour him by laying his remains before his poor mother so that she gets closure as she buries her long gone son. Please fellow Zimbabweans, let us all unite and help repatriate his body back home. I am aware that Nicloe Sithule Tshuma who is the Spokesperson of the Communities Links portfolio within the Zimbabwe Diaspora Focus Group has been pervasively circulating messages and talking to various organisations and media houses encouraging fellow Zimbabweans to unite, support and share the Gofundme cause to raise the required money. I hope we will all compliment this effort by spreading the word around and ensuring we reach the desired goal; delivering Bheki’s remains to his heartbroken mother.
You can contact Thamsanqa 00447826 202810 who is the Spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Focus Group Spokesperson and is thus liaising with the media and other concerned parties
Thapelo Mdlongwa Nkwate 00447764270132 [WhatsApp]for anyone wishing to help or get further details
Or we simply make your donations to the Gofund set up as; https://www.gofundme.com/the-late-bhekitshe-moyo-appeal.
Or for those in the UK, deposit funds into this account: TM Nkwate. Sort 071040. Account No. 53245050
And for those who are in South Africa please use this account: V Manda. ABSA 9300223200. Branch Code 632005
Ewallet /Cashsend 0027726430307