THE body of the late footballer Barnabas Mushunje is set to pass through Rufaro Stadium this morning before the funeral procession heads for his rural home in Bocha where burial is expected to take place tomorrow.
The former Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum Stars midfielder was involved in a road accident along the Harare-Shamva road when the vehicle he was travelling in, a pirate Honda Fit, collided with a tractor late Tuesday afternoon.
He succumbed to the injuries at Parirenyatwa Hospital later in the day. He was 24 years old.
Mushunje was travelling to Shamva, where he was now playing for ambitious ZIFA Northern Region Soccer League side Simba Bhora, when the accident occurred.
Family spokesperson and brother to the late footballer Emmanuel Mushunje confirmed the funeral arrangements to The Herald.
"We are hoping that a postmortem will be conducted tomorrow (today) and then we proceed to our rural home in Bocha for burial. We expect that the body will lay in state overnight as per custom," said Emmanuel.
"This is a very big loss to the family, particularly myself. I feel like I have lost two important people at once - a brother and a friend because we were close.
"Barnabas showed he was a talented footballer from a young age and you could see that he had a future in this game. This accident happened when he was coming from a funeral in Mutare where we had lost our uncle. All we have now are memories. He leaves behind a young family."
Mourners are gathered at number 4439 Budiriro 3. The family has requested the Harare City Council for permission to conduct a funeral procession at Rufaro before the body departs to the rural home today.
Mushunje was the last child in a family of six. He is survived by his wife Nonsikelelo and two minor children, Tino and Tendai. The elder sibling is two years old while the younger is just four months old.
The late midfielder kicked off his career at Buffaloes in Mutare around 2015. He then moved to FC Platinum. He came back to Mutare and had a brief stay at Mutate City. He also had stints with Ngezi Platinum and Dynamos before relocating the Shamva earlier this year.
Simba Bhora secretary general Taurai Janhi said Mushunje's demise was a huge blow to both his family and the team. The club indicated they would assist the family meet the funeral expenses.
"The family has been robbed of a son and a bread winner. We share this loss with them as Simba Bhora," said Janhi.
"The loss is even greater for Zimbabwean football. So as Simba Bhora we mourn with the family.
"There is nothing much that we can do as humans after this loss but we definitely share the pain and burden with the Mushunje family. We believe this is an act of God.
"So we have to grieve with hope. We also say thank you to the Mushunje family for giving us a talented player. We will always remember him for his contributions to the team.
"It's quite sad. I am not saying this because he is now late, but everyone who worked with him can testify that Mushunje was someone committed to his work. He was disciplined and he knew his stuff well as a footballer," said Janhi.
Dynamos captain Parston Jaure also shared his pain.
"We played together during the Chibuku Super Cup final. He was a light-hearted character, always jovial and friendly to all. He would crack jokes even when the situation was tense.
"You know, in football it's quite common for players to feel the tension and even develop cold feet before difficult games, but Mushunje was always there to break the ice and encourage others.
"What I liked most about him is that he was a responsible family man. He loved his family.
"Its's still difficult to accept he is gone. I want to extend my condolences to the family. Barnabas has left behind a young family, which needs support," said Jaure.
ZIFA Northern Region Soccer League chairman Martin Kweza also said domestic football was left poorer following the death of Mushunje.
"Mushunje's death has not only robbed Simba Bhora of one of their star players as his tragic passing on has left the league in particular and the Zimbabwean game in general poorer," said Kweza.
"He had up to the time of his death been one of the stand out players in the first half of the 2021 -- 22 season. He had won two Man of the Match awards during the Axis Solutions Super 8 Cup and with as many goals and assists both in the league matches and the Axis Solutions Super8 Cup.
"This attests to the dream season that Barnabas was having. On behalf of the NRSL leadership, the league and the entire NRSL fraternity I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to the Mushunje family," said Kweza.
He also announced that the league has postponed the big clash between Simba Bhora and Golden Eagles which was scheduled for this Saturday while a minute of silence would be observed in the upcoming matches.
Simba Bhora lead the log standings with 39 points from 17 games, one ahead of Golden Eagles and two adrift of third-placed Herentals.
Mushunje was expected to feature for Simba Bhora on Saturday before his death plunged his club and the league into mourning.