TORONTO -Munyaradzi Sithole was recently killed in a hit-and-run on St. Clair Avenue. Now his friends are trying to pay for his body to be flown back to his native Zimbabwe.
Sithole, had just finished his master’s thesis at the University of Waterloo in Geological Information Systems came to spend his thirty-first birthday weekend in Toronto on Friday.
That day he hung out with Gershem Muhlandhla and later that evening, he met up with some other friends at a bar. But things went terribly wrong as the night was coming to an end. Sithole was the victim of a fatal hit-and-run.
Muhlandhla says he was supposed to meet Sithole on Saturday morning, but when he didn’t show up, he started searching for him. When a friend called him to say he’d heard about an accident on St. Clair Avenue near Weston Road, on the radio, Muhlandhla went online to check the news.
“Immediately the camera went down to the ground and they showed this shoe, you see he had his own style, I knew the shoe right away,” Muhlandhla said as he stood by a roadside memorial.
Muhlandhla says he knows Sithole’s family back in Zimbabwe and has been trying to explain to them what happened,
“To try to fill in the gaps, why now, it was his birthday, I mean who dies on his birthday, the family wants to know, couldn’t somebody have been with him, who hit him, who’s this person did they stop,” he said.
Police recovered the minivan believed to be involved in the hit and run near Dixon Road and Highway 427 and on Tuesday, the driver turned himself into police. Thirty-three year old Owen Thompson has been charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death.
Vee Chakabveyo, a cousin of Sithole’s in Cambridge says she spoke to the family on Wednesday morning.
“They are heartbroken but at the same time, they have this hope, of getting to say goodbye once we are able to send him back to them,” she said.
She says Sithole recently told his sister he was going to become a Canadian citizen.
Family and friends have now set up a memorial fund to help pay for funeral expenses including the cost of flying Sithole’s body back to Africa. The goal is $30,000. So far they’ve raised $18,000.