BY KENNETH NYANGANI
Fifty-year-old Rudo Sithole from Manase village in Chimanimani was inconsolable as she waited to be served at a Nyaradzo funeral parlour in Mutare yesterday.
Sithole was waiting to collect the body of her husband, who died in a bus accident that claimed 37 lives in Chipinge in the early hours of Friday.
The accident occurred five kilometres from Jopa turn-off along Chimanimani-Chipinge highway just after midnight.
The St Charles Lwanga High School bus was carrying members of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) from Chimanimani East’s Tilbury Estate, who were travelling to an Easter pilgrimage at Mbungo Estates shrine, Masvingo.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said the bus which was overloaded with 106 passengers veered off the winding road near Chimanimani and hurtled into a deep ravine.
Yesterday police said 37 people had died and 70 others were injured.
“The police is still investigating the fatal road traffic accident, which occurred at the 5km peg along Jopa-Skyline Road, Chimanimani where 37 people died and 70 others injured,” police said.
“The ZRP wants to assure the nation that names of victims will be released once the identification process has been completed.”
Sithole, who lost her husband Wilbert Garikai (52), was distraught.
“On the day I had weird feelings, sadly when my husband was leaving he said we might not see him very soon and I did not take it seriously until I heard that they had been involved in an accident,” she said
“When I heard of the accident I started crying fearing for the worst, which was confirmed early in the morning by my relatives.
“He died on the spot.”
Noah Muchakubvura (39) lost a relative in the accident, while two other family members are admitted in hospital.
“I lost my brother’s son Delma and the mother of the now deceased Tsitsi Parara is admitted at Chipinge hospital while Dylan Muchakubvura (8) is admitted at Victoria Chitepo Hospital,” Muchakubvura said.
At Victoria Chitepo hospital in Mutare, families were lining up to see their injured relatives.
A survivor of the accident Thelman Kauyeza (39) who was admitted at Victoria Chitepo said he was travelling with his wife and two children and they all survived.
“The bus fell into a valley after the driver lost control,” he said.
Red Cross Manicaland provincial manager Munyaradzi Chikukwa yesterday said they were providing medical supplies and blankets as well as other interventions.
Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe road safety ambassador Emmanuel Machikwa said the bus was overloaded.
“They were travelling at night on a dangerous road, which is known for being covered with mist, and therefore visibility was compromised,” Machikwa said.
“On a road which is curved with steep descending, drivers depend more on brakes and it is not surprising that the brakes could have failed leading to the driver losing control of the bus.”
Zanu PF Chimanimani East MP Joshua Sacco said drivers should exercise extreme caution when driving in Chimanimani because of curved roads.