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Commotion at activist’s funeral

Church leaders and members of activist organisations clashed during the funeral of well known community activist and human rights defender, Muntu Aubrey Masombuka.

On Saturday hundreds of mourners came to pay their last respects to the 32-year-old who passed away due to illness.

He was active in the community since the early 2000s as a member of the Treatment Action Campaign, National Association of People living with HIV & Aids and People Opposing Women Abuse.

At the time of his death he was an executive member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (Epoc) which deals with matters involving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community.

Activists staged a walkout during the funeral service and started protesting outside the Assemblies of God Church in KwaThema, Deep Level section.

They accused the church of restricting them and presenting the deceased as a one dimensional person.

Epoc’s communications officer Bontle Khalo said, “We are ticked off, the church is not allowing us as the LGBTI community to bid farewell to our comrade the way we want and the way he would want to be given a send-off.”

Bontle said they had communicated with the family from day one with regards to the manner in which they would like to eulogise him.

“The family said clearly that, ‘Muntu was your person, do whatever, sing, shout’ we are amazed when the church won’t allow us to do that,” concluded Khalo.

Youth leaders from the church went out to speak with the angry mourners, but they failed to reach an agreement.

The activists then made their way back into the church still singing their songs with the intention of going around the coffin.

However, they were met halfway by church leaders resulting in a scuffle inside the church.

Allegations were made by some of the people outside that the church had cast out the deceased 15 years ago because of his sexual orientation, a claim which was strongly refuted by youth chairperson, Sphumi Mabena.

Sphumi said it was the family who approached the church, and requested that Assemblies host the funeral.

“We agreed to host the funeral fully aware of the kind of life Muntu lived. We didn’t accept it, but tolerated it.

“There are things that the church cannot accept but tolerate, we don’t hate people, we just tolerate until you change. We could not allow chanting, screaming and raising flags in the church, you have to follow protocol observed by the church which is constituted by God.”

The deceased’s eldest sister Sphiwe Nkabinde said the commotion was not right, but realised that the LGBTI community were not given an opportunity to say goodbye to their comrade.

She insists the organisation’s leadership was made aware, before the funeral took place, that there would be some restrictions on what could take place at the funeral.

“We have been informed that we need to write a letter of apology and send it to the church leadership” adds Nkabinde.

Muntu is survived by his partner Sifiso Nkosi, two sisters and three brothers.

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One Comment

  1. Church leaders think they r God nd think tht they r Holy its a shame 2 hear them as if they r so perfect nd living a perfect life,wat eva they did was nd still not is right cos thts wat Muntu also did 2 funerals nd hed also love it.

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