Five members of the immediate family of the former bishop of Harare have succumbed to COVID-19 over the past month. The current bishop, the Rt. Rev. Farai Mutamari released a statement this week saying wife, two daughters, and a brother and sister of the Rt. Rev. Jonathan Siyachitema had died from the virus.
Bishop Siyachitema was born in 1932 in what was then Southern Rhodesia and educated at Sarum College in Salisbury, England. He was ordained a priest in 1971 for the diocese of Bulawayo and served as Archdeacon of Matabeleland from 1974 to 1978 then Dean of Bulawayo until 1981. He was appointed suffragan bishop of the Lundi in 1981 and was elected Bishop of Harare in 1995, retiring in 2000.
The bishop’s wife, Rosemary, his daughters Elizabeth and Rosemary, brother the Rev. Fanuel Siyachitema and sister Mrs. Judith BIndu have all recently died from the COVID 19 virus. Johns Hopkins University reports there have been 3,308 new cases in the last 14 days, with 34,331 cases since the pandemic began; 1,303 people have died in Zimbabwe from the virus. The rate of infection has risen sharply over the past five weeks, accounting for the bulk of deaths and total infections recorded in the Central African nation.
BIshop Mutamiri released a statement of concern and sorrow for his predecessor’s tragedy. “I certainly believe that this is too traumatic for him to even comprehend. As a church, we pray for the Lord Almighty to give him strength to hold on to his faith even in these dark hours of his life.”
“May God heal their broken hearts and bring that peace which passes all understanding throughout this sad and sorrowful phrase in the family’s life.”
“May Bishop Jonathan also draw strength from the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 71,” the bishop said. Psalm 71:18 “And now that I am old an gray-headed, O God, do not forsake me, * till I make known your strength to this generation and your power to all who are to come.”