Coloured chief finally laid to rest

2015-09-17 06:00

ANTI-apartheid activist, Morris Fynn, was finally buried as a Zulu chief at his ancestral home at Umzumbe­ on Saturday a week after his funeral was blocked by a rival chief.

There was a heavy police presence as the 84-year-old – a direct descendant of settler Henry Francis Fynn, who was given the land by King Shaka and who married Zulu princess Mavundlase in 1824 – was laid to rest in the family graveyard on a hillside.

Fynn’s burial was meant to have taken place last Saturday, but Chief Bhekisizwe Luthuli, a former IFP MP, refused permission and threatened violence and the exhumation of Fynn’s remains and those of his ancestors if the burial went ahead.

The Luthulis and the Fynns have instituted a land claim on the property, which covers three wards of Umzumbe.

The dispute also reached the Pietermaritzburg High Court, with the Fynn family asking that the disputed chieftaincy be awarded to them with control of the 1 200 hectares of fertile farming land.

For the past 35 years, Fynn campaigned for recognition of his chieftainship. It was stripped from the Fynns in 1954 under the Bantu Authorities Act by the National Party, which refused to accept the concept of coloured chieftainship.

It was a week of tense negotiations between the Fynns, Luthuli, his supporters and provincial and local government after the family appealed to local government MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube and human settlements MEC Ravi Pillay to intervene.

After talks broke down, the Fynns went to court for an order preventing Luthuli from stopping the funeral or interfering with the family graves. The matter was adjourned on Friday.

Fynn, who had 28 children from two wives, Maureen and Emily, was born at Umzumbe, but lived in Wentworth, the coloured township in Durban to which thousands of mixed-race families were moved under the Group Areas Act.

A fiery orator who promoted the idea of Africanness among coloured people and was fiercely proud of his Zulu roots. Fynn joined the coloured Labour Party but found himself out of step with it.

In April 1987 he made headlines by sawing down “Whites Only” signs on a Durban beach, sparking the wrath of his party and the regime.

Saturday’s funeral saw the ANC intervening and ensuring that Fynn, who was never a member of the party, was granted his dying wish of being buried in the family plot.

ANC South Coast chairperson, Tolomane Mnyayiza, told mourners that anyone who tried to stop the funeral or interfere with Fynn’s remains was “declaring war”.

“Nobody will touch the Fynn graves, nobody. We need to stand side by side with this family in their struggle. We need to stand by the Fynn family and ensure they get the freedom their father fought for.”

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