Transfer of Mortal Remains

On Monday 24 August 2015 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-side. 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.

Draped Original Steel Coffin inside new Vault

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. 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 themselves were also intact. The Family then 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, it was 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.

Mausoleum containing Mortal Remains of Blessed Benedict Daswa in Church of Our Lady of the Assumption at Nweli

The remains, carried by the children of Benedict Daswa, entered the Church from which it had been carried 25 years previously. Bishop Joao Noe Rodrigues blessed, sprinkled with Holy Water and incensed the newly-prepared vault, coffin and mortal remains of Benedict, as well as the Paschal Candle which was placed alongside the new vault. The coffin was then lowered on to four bricks into its new temporary resting place. All were then invited to view the coffin before the undertakers began the work of closing the vault with a new tombstone and headstone. Each of the children of Benedict Daswa then placed 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.