A HARARE family, whose son was assisted by Vice President John Landa Nkomo with R350 000 to undergo a brain tumour surgery in South Africa in 2008, has expressed shock over the death of the veteran nationalist.
The Vice President succumbed to cancer on Thursday at St Anne's Hospital in Harare.
He was 79.
Kudakwashe Chivhayo was four-years-old when he suffered a brain tumour.
The family approached several hospitals and specialists in the country for an operation to no avail until they decided to seek help from VP Nkomo.
"The doctors and some of the specialists told us that the tumour was too sensitive and they were not able to conduct an operation," Kudakwashe's father, Mr Herbert Chivhayo said.
He said with the help of his brother, Joseph, they approached Cde Nkomo who then wrote a letter to Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono to give them R350 000 to take the child to South Africa.
"At first we had inquired with some of the doctors in South Africa and they told us that for my son to undergo the operation, we were supposed to pay R350 000," Mr Chivhayo said.
The money, he said, was released to them and they went to the neighbouring country in the company of his wife, Mrs Dalubuhle Chivhayo.
Mr Chivhayo said the doctor who had promised to operate on Kudakwashe later informed them that he was on his way to Australia and they should look for another one.
He said they approached another doctor who told them that it was his first time to perform such an operation.
"The doctor then made some consultations with other specialists in South Africa and the operation which lasted 11 hours was conducted successfully," Mr Chivhayo said.
He said they stayed in South Africa for six months while Kudakwashe was undergoing reviews and treatment.
Kudakwashe is now nine-years-old and in Grade Three at Selbourne Routledge.
Mr Chivhayo said Cde Nkomo would be sadly missed by all.
"If he (Nkomo) had not assisted my family, I don't think my son would be alive today," he said.
"We could have lost him but the Vice President had a heart for children just like what our President said yesterday (Wednesday)."
He said Nkomo and the other country's leaders had people at heart and urged the people to cherish them.
Mrs Chivhayo said: "I have been saddened by the loss and it is not a loss to us only as the Chivhayo family but the nation at large.
"He (Cde Nkomo) was a man of the people who also had the children at heart."
She said that was the reason why Nkomo built his school in Tsholotsho, which President Mugabe recently commissioned.
"May his soul rest in peace," she said.
On Thursday, people from all walks of life also expressed shock and sadness over the death of Nkomo.
Many described him as a unifier and national hero whose contribution to Zimbabwe in both pre- and post-independence periods was invaluable.