BY FORTUNE MBELE
FORMER Warriors and Highlanders midfielder Richard Choruma, who died in South Africa on December 29 last year, received a massive send-off with former and current players and football administrators gracing his burial at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo yesterday.
The programme began with a memorial service at MacDonald Hall in the morning, which was attended by football personalities as well as the mayor of Bulawayo Solomon Mguni.
He was later laid to rest at Lady Stanley Cemetery, which is reserved for people who have rendered outstanding service to the city.
Highlanders chairman Kenneth Mhlophe, who was representing the Premier Soccer League, described Choruma as a dedicated football ambassador.
“We have lost a dedicated, disciplined, I repeat, disciplined and committed football ambassador. Richo, as he was affectionately known, was a role model, not only as a player, but a community leader. He represented his club and the country which says much about how talented he was,” Mhlophe said.
Highlanders’ outgoing committee member Wisdom Mabhena, who was representing the club, also showered the late Choruma with praise.
“He [Choruma] grew up under my watch with the likes of Muzondiwa Mugadza and we played street football together in Mzilikazi. He was a visionary as a young man. At some point when Highlanders were coached by Mohamed Fathi… his name popped up, but he refused and said coaching is not in his DNA. The club settled for Mkhuphali [Masuku],” Mabhena said.
He added: “Madinda [Ndlovu] wanted a scout in his last stint at Bosso and once again Richo’s name popped up. Unfortunately, Madinda left the club for greener pastures in Botswana. We have lost a great man.”
Former Zimbabwe Saints and AmaZulu goalkeeper Mugadza, a close friend of Choruma, also sent a message of condolence from the United Kingdom where he is now based.
“I am heartbroken. I am at loss of words. I don’t know where to start and where to end. I have lied to say I will not cry. Every day since you left I cry. We had dreams together and I told you to your face I am proud of you. You were naturally a good man and possessed many life skills. Richard was not just a friend to me; he was family. I would also like to thank Esrom [Nyandoro] for the comfort we have given each other. Rest in peace Dabuka. We will continue from where you left,” Mugadza said.
Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe vice-president Herbert Dick also attended the burial.
Choruma was part of a squad of talented young Highlanders players that won three consecutive Premiership titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
He played with the likes of Honour Gombami, Johannes Ngodzo, the late Charles Chilufya, Tapuwa Kapini, Dazzy Kapenya, Sauso Phiri, Noel Kaseke, Mkhokheli Dube and Bekithemba Ndlovu, among others.
The late Choruma, who was aged 42, died of a kidney-related ailment after complaining of stomach pains.