EXHUMATION AND TRANSFER OF MORTAL REMAINS

On Monday 24 August 2015, the Church authorities and other authorised personnel with most of the close members of the Daswa Family, gathered in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption at Nweli. After the welcome and prayer service, the order of proceedings was outlined by the Promoter of Justice, Rev Doctor Edmund O’Neill sdb. All then proceeded to the cemetery in Mbahe Village and assembled at the grave which was clearly marked by the tombstone inscription as belonging to the Venerable Servant of God.With raised hands, three witnesses attested aloud that they were present at the burial of the Venerable Servant of God, Tshimangadzo Samuel Benedict Daswa, and that this was indeed the place of burial of his remains. After calling each of the grave-diggers by name, Bishop Joao Rodrigues instructed them to proceed with their work.As the coffin had been very securely buried with several layers of thick cement between layers of soil, the process of uncovering the coffin took more than four hours.

The steel coffin which was in good condition, was carefully lifted upright from the grave.

Exhumed original steel coffin

With the consent of the Daswa Family it was then carried very respectfully to the grave of Eveline (Shady) Daswa, the deceased wife of Benedict, and placed on top of her tombstone. After the coffin was opened the skeletal remains of the Venerable Servant of God were seen to be intact within the original wrappings, which were themselves intact.The Family indicated their preference for the remains to be kept undisturbed in the original coffin for re-interment. Following the age-old custom of the Church, some small portions of the cloth in which the deceased was wrapped and a tiny portion of bone were taken for future use as relics.

After the coffin had been brushed down to remove excess soil, an official church document testifying to the date of death and exhumation of the Venerable Servant of God was placed inside the coffin.

 

Original steel coffin laid in new vault

 

It was then covered in white material and draped in colourful traditional Venda cloth. It was next secured with strong bands, bound with red ribbon and sealed with the wax seal of the Diocese of Tzaneen. The adult children of Benedict Daswa carried the dressed and sealed coffin to the hearse which then departed for the Church of the Assumption of Mary at Nweli, followed in convoy by the other cars.The remains, carried by the children of Benedict Daswa, entered the church from which it departed 25 years previously. Bishop Joao Noe Rodrigues blessed and sprinkled with Holy Water and incensed the newly prepared vault, coffin and remains, as well as the Paschal Candle which was placed alongside the new vault.The coffin was then lowered on to four bricks to its new resting place, after which all were invited to view the coffin before the undertakers began the work of closing the vault with a new tombstone and headstone. The children of Benedict Daswa placed a veil as well as a bouquet of flowers on the newly sealed vault. After a brief prayer service and vote of thanks by a senior family of the Daswa Family and the Chairperson of the Diocese of Tzaneen, everyone departed.The unveiling of the tombstone will take place on the Saturday 12 September 2015, the day before the celebration of the beatification Mass.