Traffic police lead the procession at the funeral service of Cllr Gift Phiri.

About 50 people (as per the Covid 19 regulations) paid their last respect to the late councillor of Musina Municipality, Cllr Simon Mpho Gift Phiri (52). Phiri died after a short illness and he was laid to rest at Musina cemetery on Tuesday 08 September 2020. He was one of the longest serving councillors of Musina Municipality. He was serving his third term when he unexpectedly passed on. During the time of his death, Phiri was the Ward councillor of Ward 1 which includes the farming areas, rural villages and parts of the Musina town. He was also the Chairperson of the Corporate Services Portfolio Committee and a member of the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC). Before joining politics, Phiri was a member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

An urgent special Council meeting of Musina Municipality was converged a day before his funeral so that his colleagues could have an opportunity to reflect on his good work while he was still alive. A memorial service, as per the Covid 19 regulations, was also held in his honour.

During the funeral service, speaker after speaker described Phiri as someone who was passionate about service delivery. He was also described as someone who would put people’s interests first before thinking about himself.

Representing Musina Municipality, Mayor Mihloti Muhlope said the people of Musina have lost an experienced leader who would be difficult to replace. She said Phiri passed on at the time when local government needed him most. “We will desperately miss him because his vast experience in local government was a blessing to us. We used to consult him for advice on many issues because he has been in the municipal environment for some time. This is not only a loss to the family. We have equally lost a great hero as a municipality and the community of Musina at large. His good work towards building the society of Musina will live with us forever.”

The Regional Secretary of the ANC in Vhembe, Adv Anderson Mudunungu said the ANC learnt about Phiri’s death with shock. “We couldn’t believe that is gone. He was a dedicated comrade who would do anything to bring services to his people. It was not a mistake for the ANC to deploy him to the Council of Musina Municipality. Indeed, we have lost a great soldier who was ready to serve under any circumstances.”

Family representative, Grace Phiri said it was beyond their belief that their loved one has departed from the earth. “He was the pillar of strength in this family and we don’t even know how we will carry on with life without him. Our hearts are bleeding with pain but we thank everyone for their support during this difficult time.”