Peter Matambanadzo and Thupeyo Muleya
FIFTEEN church members of the Johanne Masowe weChishanu branch in South Africa died on the spot after their car collided head-on with a bus along the R510 highway in Rusternburg in that country on Sunday afternoon.
The incident occurred between Northem and Rustenburg while the victims were coming from church. It is reported that the pick-up truck was travelling towards Johannesburg with 15 people on board including the driver.
According to the church’s international spokesperson, Mr Edward Manyara the worshippers were all based in SA and were travelling from a church gathering in Ndabezitha in KwaZulu-Natal in their Mitsubishi Colt when the fatal accident occurred.
“We are working on repatriating the bodies of our members back home and we expecting all the bodies to arrive tomorrow (today) morning,” he said.
Mr Manyara said relatives of the deceased have since been informed.
He identified the deceased as Andrew Tonderai Dzvairo and his wife Mildred Chimba from Murehwa, Barbsy Marufu from Hwedza, Andrew Mahachi, Stanely Zvichapera and Brian Muzhingi all from Harare, Lucky Takaedza from Mt Darwin, Blessing Zhaware, Blessing Chimbi both from Marange in Mutare, Paida Chiurirayi and relatives Mercia Chiyangwa, Penia Chiyangwa, Pride Chiyangwa from Guruve, Lawrence Mureya from Zvishavane and Evias Mudzamiri from Musana communal lands.
South Africa’s North West Public Safety Department spokesperson, Mr Simon Mmope said among those who were killed were 10 men, two women and three children, aged between 8 and 12 years.
“According to traffic authorities the pick-up truck was overtaking another vehicle when it collided head on with a bus. As a result all the people in the truck died on the scene,” he said
Mr Mmope said several passengers from the bus were also injured during the collision. He said both the injured and the deceased were taken to Rustenburg Provincial Hospital.
Zimbabwe’s Consular General to South Africa Mr Godfrey Magwenzi said in a telephone interview yesterday that the victims had since been positively identified by their relatives though he could not release their names.
He said they had approached their hosts to assist the relatives in repatriating the victims through the Road Accident Fund.
“We have positively identified the 15 victims with the assistance of their relatives. We also approached our hosts who offered them (relatives) assistants in repatriating the bodies and other logistical issues. The bodies have since been collected for burial in Zimbabwe.
“On behalf of the Zimbabwean Consulate, I would want to express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families on the sudden death of their loved ones. At the same time we want to urge motorists to always exercise caution and ensure the safety of the people they will be carrying.
“Some of these accidents are avoidable if will all abide by the basic road regulations. It is worrying that we continue to lose lives due to unnecessary road accidents”, said Mr Magwenzi.
The bodies are expected to arrive in the country through Beitbridge border post this morning.
The incident comes a few weeks after 13 Zimbabweans were killed in another road accident between Musina and Makhadho towns in Limpopo province when a commuter omnibus they were travelling in rammed into a stationary truck.