RELATIVES of 17 out of the 24 Chisumbanje ethanol tanker explosion victims yesterday asked Government for a mass burial after they disagreed on the identities of the bodies.
The 25th body belonged to Clifford Muyambo who died on Monday and was being transported to his village for burial when a T35 truck ferrying mourners collided head-on with the tanker, resulting in the inferno. Muyambo’s body was also burnt in the fire.
Chipinge District Administrator Mr Edgars Seenza said in an interview that the relatives had approached him demanding that the mass burial be carried out immediately. Mr Seenza said there was need for police clearance before the mass burial can be carried out.
“They are actually demanding the mass burial, saying that they are finding it difficult to identify their relatives. They wanted the mass burial today (yesterday) so that they quickly go back to their homes.
“The police will advice us tomorrow (today) on the way forward. What transpired is that some relatives were sent to identify the bodies, but when others followed they started arguing about the positive identities.
“Those who followed later were disputing the first group’s conclusion without having seen the bodies.”
Mr Seenza said the Muyambo family, which lost six of its members, was at the forefront of demanding the mass burial. He said eight of the bodies had been positively identified, leaving the 17 which sparked wrangles.
The accident occurred on Wednesday morning near Checheche Growth Point at the 206km peg along the Tanganda-Chiredzi Highway.
When coffins that were bought by the Government were lined up for collection of the bodies from Chipinge District Hospital, the relatives told the officials that they wanted to consult their families back home to help establish the true identities.
Bodies that were identified were said to be those of Darikai Muyambo, Blessing Nokutenda Magwagwa, Tracy Mtetwa, Beulah Mashapa, Charles Chandengerwa, Nyasha Nafelani, Winnie Muyambo, Prosper Chandengerwa, Ngarwo Jakopo, Venencia Dzapasi, Viola Dzapasi and Kudzai Chandengerwa.
But later in the day, some relatives raised concerns that they were not too sure and wanted a second opinion from other family members.
Mr Seenza said they sent a bus provided by Green Fuel, the owners of the ethanol tanker which exploded with police, Civil Protection Unit officials and relatives to Madhuku area where most of the mourners came from to map the way forward.
That was when the relatives decided that the mass burial was the only option they had. He said Green Fuel provided US$250 which would be given to the next of kin of each deceased person and this came after the Government gave each bereaved family US$200.
Police Forensic Science examiners from Harare went to Chipinge yesterday to prepare for forensic tests in case they are ordered.
Acting Manicaland Police Traffic Co-ordinator Chief Inspector Cyprian Mukahanana said the carrying out of the tests was expected following the disagreements among the relatives.
Samples from the remains were expected to be taken to South Africa in case the tests were ordered. The Herald