Lemekani Nyirenda: A Zambian student who died fighting for Russia was buried in Ukraine

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CNN

A Zambian student killed in combat in Ukraine was buried in a private ceremony in his home country on Wednesday, a family spokesman told CNN.

Lemekani Nathan Nyirenda was killed on the front lines of the war in Ukraine last September while fighting as part of the Russian mercenary group “Wagner”.

His family spokesman, Dr. Ian Banda, spoke to CNN on Wednesday morning as the family traveled to Nyirenda’s final resting place in his village.

“We are going to bury him now… We are in a convoy… His mother and father (from Nyrenda) are behind me in the car. They are crying now,” Banda told CNN.

Nyirenda’s body was brought to Zambia last month. After his arrival on December 11, his remains were taken to the University of Zambia Hospital mortuary for post-mortem examinations in accordance with Zambian law.

“Funeral, burial and memorial services at the Nyirenda family residence will not commence until the above mandatory legal formalities have been completed,” the family said in a statement.

Banda told CNN that the forensic examination of Nyirenda’s body was “confirmed,” without providing further details.

Nyirenda is not the first African student to fight for Russia on the Ukrainian front, causing outrage across the continent.

The Tanzanian national, identified by his country’s foreign ministry as Nemes Tarimo, was killed last October while fighting with Wagner in exchange for money and amnesty, the ministry said in a statement. statement Tuesday.

Tarimo was a graduate student at Moscow University of Technology studying business computing before he was jailed for seven years on undisclosed criminal charges in March last year, the ministry said, adding that his body had been shipped from Russia and was due to arrive. Tanzania for burial soon.

Nyerenda, 23, studied nuclear engineering at the Institute of Engineering and Physics in Moscow under the sponsorship of the Zambian government, but was convicted in Russia in 2020 of unspecified crimes and sentenced to nine years and six months in prison, Zambia’s foreign ministry said. statement. statement announced his death in November.

Further on statement Last month, the ministry explained that Nyirenda had been pardoned by the Russian government in August to take part in a military operation in response to the amnesty and was “killed in September 2022 while participating in military activities.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, admitted to recruiting Nyerenda from a Russian prison, saying he chose to fight to “pay off (Africa’s) debts” to Russia and “died a hero.”

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