Dark cloud hangs low over Kamativi

In recent years, horrendous accidents have become a common feature on the country’s roads. Many innocent souls have perished. In most cases, the accidents have been attributed to human error.

THE searing temperatures hover around 40 degrees Celsius at around midday in the arid area of Kaningo Village 72 kilometres south-east of Binga. A hot dry wind blows steadily as if everything is normal.

But in the hearts of the villagers in this Matabeleland North province, a dark cloud is hanging so low as they have plunged into mourning.

Tears are still wet on the cheeks of elderly and young women of Kananingo. Death has robbed this area as eight people perished in a horrific accident which claimed 12 lives last week.

As The Sunday Mail crew drove into the village, a grave silence stalked the densely populated settlement.

With the scorching sun on a Sunday afternoon, one of the accident victims, Martin Kadimba, was being buried.

Death has united villagers as mourners gather to share the grief. It is part of the African culture.

The latest accident has reminded Misheck Musaka (76) of painful memories.

“The last accident to claim such a large number of lives was in December 27, 1978. It killed 72 farmers,” said a teary Musaka.

He went down memory lane: “I remember that fateful day, the whole village was plunged into mourning. That day has revisited us this day.

“We are members of an apostolic sect and somehow we were warned of this latest accident. One woman, who is in the Intensive Care Unit, had a premonition of this accident.

“We prayed about it but God had other plans.”

The 12 members of the True Apostolic Faith Mission were travelling from Siabuwa, Kaningo and Gangara villages under Chief Sinampande, to Victoria Falls for an annual church conference.

The church members could not afford to hire a bus and settled for a truck.

A 10-tonne truck was hired with the 130 members paying $15 each.

Accident survivors said the truck driver, Clemence Dube (31), was complaining of faulty brakes before the journey.

Mr Daniel Diet narrated: “Just before departure, he warned us of faulty brakes. However, some church members pressured Dube to continue with the journey. Dube just obliged.

“Maybe if he had known the steep roads and sharp curves, he would have refused to drive the faulty truck.

“About 20 metres from the accident scene, Dube stopped the truck and ordered passengers to disembark from the truck to enable him to negotiate the curve after which they were going to get back on the truck.

“Again, no one heed the driver’s advice. Everyone was complaining about the distance.

“Seconds later, we were in a gorge and unfortunately Clemence was also killed in the accident.”

On the 25km peg between Cross Dete and Hwange, tyre marks of a vehicle skidding off the road are still visible.

At the accident scene, there are uprooted thorny shrubs and overturned stones, which all point to a struggle between a man and his vehicle.

A wreckage lies in a gorge, just five metres from the main road.

The owner of the truck, Ephraim Muchimba (35), professed ignorance over the faulty brakes.

“Clemence (the driver) never told me about the brakes. The vehicle used to commute to Harare and Bulawayo to transport various goods.

“I knew the truck was not passenger insured. It was not meant to transport people. I wanted to help the community.”

Muchimba was almost in tears as he narrated how 24-year-old Saul Sibanda breathed his last.

“When I got to the accident scene, the bodies were still there. I managed to identify all of them.

“When I saw Saul my heart sank. It was his first day at work and he had been married for a month and he told me he now wanted to be a responsible man.”

In recent years, horrendous accidents have become a common feature on the country’s roads. Many innocent souls have perished. In most cases, the accidents have been attributed to human error.

As the sun sets in Kaningo, the birds are chirping, dogs barking care freely but a dark cloud still lingers.

The village is still in mourning. Death is the talk in the sun-scorched area.

Some even believe the gods have turned their back on the village.

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