Brighton "Elliot" Moyo – on the run after being exposed as the lead character in a "resurrection" drama involving a self-proclaimed prophet – succumbed to pneumonia after fleeing to Zimbabwe.
TimesLIVE retraced his journey home after the scandal to a remote Zimbabwean village in Lupane, Matabeleland North. The closest urban centre is Bulawayo, over 150km south.
There, Moyo was known as Thabiso Mlanje, 28, who in his formative years at the local Gogo Primary School was known for his football skills. He took the name Brighton Moyo when he got to South Africa.
Unbeknown to his grandmother and everyone back home, he became infamous for taking part in a "resurrection" ceremony performed by Congolese preacher Alph Lukau of Alleluia Ministries.
"He went to South Africa in 2011 to look for a job. He married a girl from a nearby village. When they had children, they sent them back home and we never knew what he was up to … what we are being told now," said Emily Moyo, his grandmother.
The revelation came after Thabiso succumbed to pneumonia at the local referral hospital, St Luke's. His relatives had known for some time that he was not in good health, with news filtering through that he had been bedridden in South Africa. His death certificate record is 49/19 – meaning that he was the 49th person to die at the rural hospital this year.
"Now when I look at it, the time he was said to have been resurrected is the time he had been in hospital in Johannesburg. I think he was a perfect candidate because he had shed a lot of weight," said his grandmother.
His brother, Stanley Mlanje, who also works in South Africa, said Thabiso did not get proper healthcare in South Africa because he had been on the run from police since the resurrection scandal. That's why he agreed with his wife to go home to find some peace and quiet.
"He always ran away from hospital when he heard there were police around. It was in connection with the 'miracles'. We decided not to ask him about it because we wanted him to fully recover. I guess the truth has gone with him," said Stanley.
Moyo is survived by his wife, Simelweyinkosi, and two children, aged six and four.
His wife distanced herself from the resurrection fiasco. "What he did during his spare time is not my business. I am not in a position to talk about that issue because I am in the dark. With him gone, we will never know the truth – but I have to go back to South Africa, where I work," she said. "He died three days after he was admitted in hospital with severe pneumonia."
According to media reports in Zimbabwe, the police visited his relatives after the burial to ask questions in connection with the "miracle" scandal in South Africa.
Police spokesperson Siphiwe Makonese confirmed that they got wind that a fugitive from the justice system had been buried in the area.
"The deceased had a case to answer in South Africa, where he is understood to have fled from. It was standard procedure from the police to find out how and why they housed someone on the run," she said.