Highlanders football president Mhlanga dies
HIGHLANDERS Football Club president Jonathan Themba Mhlanga has died. He was 81.
Mhlanga, who had been unwell for sometime died at around 4PM yesterday at Premier Hospital in Hillside, Bulawayo.
His son, Lenox, said the family had lost a pillar of strength but believes the old man has rested.
“He passed on at 4PM today (yesterday) and while death cannot be celebrated we feel the old man has rested,” said Lenox. He described his father as a very supportive parent. “He was quite supportive and I believe his ‘family’ was bigger than us as he took care of a number of issues from the field of politics, business and indeed sport. Him and the likes of Zwambila and the late Highlanders patron Tafi Moyo were the pioneers of black business in the city,” said Lenox.
His father developed an interest in sport in the 1960s when he came back from Cape Town in South Africa where he became the first black manager of a shop in the city.
“This is where he met the political hierarchy, the likes of Father Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo among others. Most of the political strategising was done in that Jewish owned shop. It was from his businesses that he was to start his long life with Highlanders when they were asked as black businessmen to pour funds into the club, that was in the 1970s,” he said.
Mhlanga was given the post of treasurer since he was the one keeping those donated funds.
“They practically funded Highlanders from their pockets,” said Lenox.
Highlanders’ long time benefactor and Minister of Welfare Services for War Veterans, War Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees, Tshinga Dube, who visited the Mhlanga family home yesterday said the deceased was a pillar of the club.
“When we were young he was always at the forefront organising Highlanders issues. He was a respected man and I think it will be hard for the club to find a person like him. He sacrificed a lot for the club,” said Dube, who is also Makokoba MP.
Dube said Mhlanga also played a very active political role during the struggle and at one time survived an attempt on his life by the settler regime who opened fire at his house when they saw people gathered.
“They thought it was a Zapu gathering yet it was just people in a Highlanders meeting,” said Dube.
Mhlanga is survived by wife Marvis, seven children, three girls and four boys, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.
Mourners are gathered at Number 25 Antrim Road, Matsheumhlophe, Bulawayo.
The late Jonathan Themba Mhlanga