Hor­ror crash through eyes of the sur­vivors

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Feature - Leroy Dzenga and Nye­mudzai Kakore Fea­tures Writ­ers ◆ Feed­back: dzen­gav­i­su­als@gmail.com

ZIM­BABWE was plunged into mourn­ing on Wed­nes­day evening when a bus driver’s im­pa­tience cost the na­tion 46 lives and left many in­jured.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred at the 166km peg along the Harare-Mutare High­way near Rusape around 5.30pm on a stretch of the road where over­tak­ing is clearly pro­hib­ited.

What could have been avoided by obey­ing clear road rules and signs re­sulted in the big­gest traf­fic car­nage the coun­try has seen in a long time.

Im­ages from the ac­ci­dent scene were grue­some; many news plat­forms could not even up­load cen­sored ver­sions of the im­ages.

For the Chamanga fam­ily, a rou­tine check on their rel­a­tive brought them face-to-face with un­ex­pected heartbreak.

Dou­glas Chamanga’s fam­ily was not aware that he was trav­el­ling on that day.

“I did not know that my brother Dou­glas was trav­el­ling to Mutare. But from Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, he was not pick­ing his phone.

“In the evening, we got to hear of the ac­ci­dent on the news, but it did not ring a bell in our minds that he could have been on one of the buses,” his younger brother, Farai, said.

But the fam­ily was anx­ious be­cause Dou­glas’ si­lence was un­usual.

“The fol­low­ing day, we tried his phone again, but it was not go­ing through. We sus­pected that some­thing was wrong be­cause that was so un­like him,” Chamanga said.

With news of a tragic ac­ci­dent do­ing rounds, they de­cided to travel to see if their rel­a­tive was not in­volved.

“We re­solved to travel to Rusape to check among the vic­tims and we found his body there.

First, we saw his na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card and went on to iden­tify his body.

“It was a dif­fi­cult ex­pe­ri­ence, we were not ex­pect­ing to find him in the mor­tu­ary.”

One of the sur­vivors, Seti Mushanyuka (36), is con­vinced if it had not been for di­vine mercy, he would have per­ished in the deadly mishap.

“I live in Mozam­bique. I had trav­elled to Zim­babwe to re­solve a fam­ily dis­pute in Mure­hwa.

“On my way back with my sis­ter, brother-in-law and three other rel­a­tives, we boarded a Bolt Cut­ter bus at Si­mon Muzenda ter­mi­nus at around 3pm,” Mushanyuka said.

As is the case with most buses that ply the Harare-Mutare route, Mushanyuka said the bus was speed­ing from the time it left Harare.

“As we were ap­proach­ing the 166km peg, I saw a Smart Ex­press bus en­croach­ing into our lane,” he said.

Be­ing a pas­tor, Mushanyuka claims he saw vi­sions just as the ac­ci­dent was about to hap­pen.

“I saw a vision of a dark cloud which was de­scend­ing be­tween the two buses.

“That is when I bowed my head and asked God to save me and my fam­ily mem­bers. When I lifted my head again, I saw a huge hand which pushed our bus aside,” he said in a stranger than fic­tion nar­ra­tion.

“I then saw the Smart Ex­press bus hit­ting a tree and go­ing off the road.

“This is when I knew we had sur­vived. Peo­ple were be­ing thrown out of win­dows, it was a scary sight,” Mushanyuka said.

The six of them sur­vived with treat­able in­juries.

Give­more Dzobo (55), a pas­sen­ger in the Smart Ex­press who had just been dis­charged from hospi­tal af­ter sur­viv­ing the hor­ror crash, said the bus driver iden­ti­fied as Cos­mas Marembo, who has since sur­ren­dered him­self to the po­lice af­ter he ini­tially fled the scene of the ac­ci­dent, was speed­ing.

He said upon board­ing the bus in Mutare, Marembo re­ceived a phone call from a woman whom he promised to pick up in Maron­dera at ex­actly 6pm.

“I had trav­elled to Mutare from Harare to at­tend my fa­ther’s me­mo­rial ser­vice,” he said.

“I boarded the Smart Ex­press bus at around 3pm on Wed­nes­day. Dur­ing the jour­ney, our driver was warned by other pas­sen­gers that he was speed­ing, but he never lis­tened,” said Dzobo.

The driv­ing was bad. It is said one pas­sen­ger dis­em­barked along the way be­cause she was scared.

“One of the pas­sen­gers dropped off in Rusape as she didn’t feel safe be­cause of the speed. As we ap­proached Tor­rish Farm, 160km from Harare, our driver tried to over­take, a move which re­sulted in the ac­ci­dent,” Dzobo said.

Washaya Oba­dia (50), an­other pas­sen­ger in the Smart Ex­press bus, said Marembo should take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ac­ci­dent. He said Marembo failed to abide by the rules and reg­u­la­tions stip­u­lated in the Road Traf­fic Act.

“The Smart Ex­press bus was over­tak­ing two heavy trucks go­ing to Harare and side swiped the on­com­ing Bolt Cut­ter bus,” said Oba­dia.

Af­ter fail­ing to ne­go­ti­ate over the con­tin­u­ous pro­hi­bi­tion line, the driver hit a tree with a huge im­pact.

Oba­dia added; “What I re­mem­ber next is see­ing peo­ple ly­ing in a pool of blood on the tar­mac and road­side.

“Some had been thrown off the bus. Oth­ers were call­ing for help, while some lay mo­tion­less. I prayed to God, thank­ing him for spar­ing my life from such neg­li­gent driv­ing.”

As health per­son­nel bat­tle to stop the death toll from ris­ing, ques­tions are be­ing asked about the quality of driv­ers on our roads.

There is need for thor­ough scru­tiny of peo­ple who drive pas­sen­ger ser­vice ve­hi­cles to min­imise ac­ci­dents of this na­ture in fu­ture.

Just one mo­ment of mad­ness has robbed fam­i­lies of their loved ones.

Oth­ers will have to live with dis­abil­i­ties as a re­sult of the ac­ci­dent.

— (Pic­ture by Ku­dak­washe Hunda)

Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Joel Big­gie Ma­tiza (right) and Min­is­ter of State for Man­i­ca­land Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs Dr Ellen Gwaradz­imba (cen­tre) lis­ten to Seti Mushanyuka of Chikanga, Mutare, one of the ac­ci­dent sur­vivors ad­mit­ted at Rusape Gen­eral Hospi­tal yes­ter­day.

Po­lice of­fi­cers con­duct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions at the ac­ci­dent scene

One of the sur­vivors, Washaya Oba­dia, re­vis­its the scene of the ac­ci­dent that al­most claimed his life

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