43 souls laden on his shoul­ders

He drove haulage trucks and buses for Power Liner, J and J Trans­port, Chawatama Buses, Unki Mine and King Lion.

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FEATURE - Levi Mukarati and De­sire Ncube

HE WAS a tee­to­taller, a fact that rules out the pos­si­bil­ity of the ef­fects of al­co­hol in the ac­ci­dent. Born into a Catholic fam­ily, he was bap­tised at birth and tried his best to fol­low Vat­i­can pre­scribed tra­di­tions and rites for 40 years.

In the last five years, the man con­verted to an apos­tolic sect - Kuwadzana - as­sum­ing the ti­tle “Madz­ibaba” or “Mu­vhang­eri”.

At Kudzanai Bus Ter­mi­nus in Gweru, he was known as an avid Chelsea and Dy­namos fan, and often im­i­tated co­me­dian Sab­huku Vharazipi. Close as­so­ciates de­scribe him as an open per­son and a softie who would not hurt a fly.

But to­day many peo­ple pin the deaths of 43 peo­ple on him.

These are the 43 pas­sen­gers who died when the bus he was driv­ing crashed in early June in Nya­makate, Karoi in Mashona­land East prov­ince.

But who ex­actly was the man be­hind the steer­ing wheel of the Zam­bia-bound bus?

His name is Jim­son Ruzvidzo from Gweru.

The driver was be­hind the steer­ing wheel of King Lion bus reg­is­tra­tion num­ber ADC 2095 since 2014. It was this same bus that took his life and the lives of 43 oth­ers, leav­ing over 30 with vary­ing in­juries.

The Sun­day Mail trav­elled to Gweru, As­cot Ex­ten­sion where the late Mr Ruzvidzo had moved upon com­ple­tion of his five-roomed house in which he lived for just 37 days be­fore he died.

The house is yet to be fully fur­nished with his wife Joyce Ruzvidzo re­veal­ing that her hus­band in­tended to buy a lounge suite in Zam­bia dur­ing the trip that was to turn out to be his last.

“My hus­band also had plans for life,” nar­rates Mrs Ruzvidzo in an emo­tion­ally charged in­ter­view last week. The cou­ple had been mar­ried for 21 years.

With tears build­ing, Mrs Ruzvidzo adds: “He was a lov­ing and God-fear­ing man. Our chil­dren were named in a man­ner that bears tes­ti­mony to our be­liefs.”

The chil­dren are named Chi­dochaishe (19), Tin­odaishe (14), Tanatswa (12) and Ti­no­mu­tenda (6).

Si­las Chak­wanda, who once worked with Mr Ruzvidzo, also does not un­der­stand what could have hap­pened on June 7, vow­ing that his col­league was not a speed fa­natic.

“We had cases of pas­sen­gers who were con­fi­dent in Ruzvidzo’s driv­ing and would resched­ule their trip if he was off duty,” claims Chak­wanda.

Mr Ruzvidzo had al­most 22 years driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Born in Kadoma’s Don­ain ru­ral area some 45 years ago, the man was an ac­coun­tant who worked for sev­eral years at Red Star in Bu­l­awayo be­fore ven­tur­ing into full-time driv­ing in the late 1990s.

He drove haulage trucks and buses for Power Liner, J and J Trans­port, Chawatama Buses, Unki Mine and King Lion.

“Un­like what some pub­lic trans­port driv­ers are known for - phi­lan­der­ing - Ruzvidzo was well-re­served in that area,” adds Chak­wanda.

Ruzvidzo had his brushes with the law.

He was ar­rested in 2013 at Beit­bridge Bor­der Post on ac­cu­sa­tions of try­ing to bring into Zim­babwe a Mercedes-Benz minibus with fit­tings and ac­ces­sories worth R236 375 he had not de­clared.

He was work­ing for Unki Mine at that time and had been dis­patched to col­lect the com­pany minibus.

Ruzvidzo told the court his em­ployer had not told him that the minibus would come fit­ted with seats, win­dow panes, fire ex­tin­guish­ers, par­cel shelves, a ra­dio and other ac­ces­sories.

The case was still be­fore the courts af­ter Ruzvidzo chal­lenged a rul­ing for him to pay US$450 or spend 120 days in prison.

“He was so hurt by the in­ci­dent that he quit his job as a driver at Unki Mine,” nar­rates Mrs Ruzvidzo.

“My hus­band con­tin­ued to fight against the sen­tence say­ing he did not want his name as­so­ci­ated with any crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

But some sur­vivors of the ac­ci­dent think of him dif­fer­ently, and say he was speed­ing and thus caused the crash.

Joyce and Jim­som Ruzvidzo

Jim­son Ruzvidzo

Wreck­age of the King Lion bus that killed 43 pas­sen­gers in Nya­makate, Karoi

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