Mido Macia goes home
They were waiting at the border: more than 100 people bearing a Mozambican flag and ready to pray.
Four elderly women led the delegation. They came from Matola, where Emidio Macia spent the first 10 years of his life.
The mourners prayed and sang hymns, preparing to allow the hearse containing Macia’s body to cross the border from South Africa into Mozambique.
Many wept when the woman leading the prayers asked: “Why do South Africans hate us so much?
“Please tell us what it is that we have done wrong to you. We are neighbours, but you continuously unleash cruelty on us.”
For Macia’s family and friends, Friday started in Joburg and ended, many long hours later, at Mpumalanga’s Lebombo border post.
First, they spent the day in court listening to proceedings during the bail applications of the nine police officers accused of murdering Macia.
Two weeks ago, Macia died in a Daveyton Police Station holding cell. The officers are due back in the Benoni Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.
From court, it was time for Macia – affectionately known as Mido to Daveyton residents – to make his final journey back to the house he called home for 17 years.
As the coffin containing his body was offloaded from a white hearse outside the Daveyton house, mourners burst into song.
Like schoolchildren at the sounding of the morning assembly siren, everybody rushed to see whether the moment they had been dreading – but knew was coming – had finally arrived.
Seven men carried the coffin into the yard, heading straight to the outside room the young man had lived in for many years.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of some mourners as they watched the coffin being taken to his small, poorly ventilated room.
Others muttered: “Mido died before his time.” For 30 minutes, mourners sang hymns and waited patiently for Macia’s family to start a prayer session before they set off for Mozambique.
During that time, Macia’s father Jossefia sat in the dining room inside the main house drinking a glass of cold water. He said nothing. His face was empty.
It was only when Macia’s cousin Carlos came to Jossefia and said: “Uncle, it is time,” that the older man rose from his seat.
He walked slowly to Macia’s room and joined in a short prayer service.
Then he went back to the main house to sit again.
Neatly dressed in a pinstriped grey suit and blue shirt and speaking through a translator, Jossefia told City Press he had no words to explain his feelings.
“Mido came to South Africa as a young boy looking for greener pastures, but today he leaves in a coffin. He had aspirations and was hoping to return to Mozambique some day to better our lives. Now that will never happen,” he said.
His stern facade cracked.
As the sun started to sink below the horizon on Friday, scores of people moved up and down Daveyton’s Gumbi Street.
The street resembled a taxi rank – but here, traffic police had cordoned off the road and a hearse was at the head of the queue, a police van waiting to escort it to its next destination.
Macia’s coffin was carried on to the back of the hearse as mourners sang a hymn: “God welcome his soul in heaven and grant him the power to forgive his enemies.”
Jossefia jumped into the passenger seat and the hearse set off.
Before Mozambique, though, there was one last stop: the Daveyton Police Station holding cells.
There, the family performed a ritual during which they told Macia’s spirit they were taking him home.
Jossefia, Macia’s cousins Mario and Carlos, and the dead man’s landlord, Badalisile Ngwenya, went into the holding cell where Macia took his last breath.
Jossefia asked the police officers on duty to show him the spot where his son died.
It was pointed out – less than a metre from the thick steel door of the cell.
He knelt, took out a white cloth and sprinkled snuff on it while calling his son’s name.
He spoke quietly, then dragged the white cloth behind him and crawled out of the cell.
In the corridor, he neatly folded the cloth.
Jossefia then walked silently to the hearse and laid the white cloth atop his son’s coffin.
It was dark when the procession – about 30 vehicles – started their journey to Matola.
In the taxis and cars, mourners sang and danced, saying this was what Macia would have wanted for his funeral.
Yesterday, a packed tent of mourners received Macia’s body when it arrived after 8am in Matola, about 15km from Maputo.
Relatives cried uncontrollably as his coffin was carried through a guard of honour formed by members of the Zion Christian Church.
All speakers at Macia’s funeral criticised the South African police for having had a hand in his death.
The governor of Maputo province, Maria Elias Jonas, said: “Macia suffered at the hands of the South African police and they should suffer too. They must be punished for what they did. They are supposed to be guarding the people but they are killing them.”