By Vusumuzi Dube
The identification of the Brooklyn bus accident victims will take two weeks with the Government calling on families of the victims to be patient as authorities go about the meticulous process of identifying the charred remains.
Speaking at the United Bulawayo Hospitals, where Government officials are working together with the National University of Science and Technology’s Applied Genetic Testing Centre, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, Cde July Moyo also clarified that the actual death toll was 33 and not 42 as previously reported. He said 32 people died on the spot while one passed away upon admission at UBH.
The accident occurred on Thursday evening around 11pm at the 181km peg along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road and is suspected to have been caused by a gas cylinder that exploded. The bus was travelling from Zvishavane to Musina in South Africa. Minister Moyo said while the Government was grieving with the affected families, they were calling for patience as the identification process is done.
“My civil protection committees, due to the nature and complexity of the disaster are seized with the matter to ensure that the DNA tests would be expeditiously done and concluded, since his Excellency, President Mnangagwa, has declared the bus accident a state of disaster. I am informed that the DNA tests being currently carried out by pathologists would result in the correct bodies positively identified by the relatives not withstanding that it will take at least two weeks before the actual burials are done. I kindly urge the relatives of the deceased to be mindful of this necessity process which will ultimately delay burial but with positive results,” said Minister Moyo.
He said the public should also stop spreading falsehoods surrounding the accident, noting that this was a sensitive matter for both the families and the nation as a whole.
“I want to urge all Zimbabweans to be mindful that when such an accident occurs there is sensitivity to it and we should not be rushing with stories that are not confirmed either by the police or our Civil Protection Unit because it causes more damage, more harm and pain to those who will be suspecting that they have lost loved ones. Let me reiterate that it is high time we have a nation which is risk averse, especially the operators and drivers of public passenger vehicles. What is more disturbing is the fact that this horrific accident happened at the backdrop of another road traffic accident near Rusape where 46 people lost their lives,” said Minister Moyo.
UBH pathologist Dr Tsungai Jabangwe revealed that they had started the identification process with relatives bringing in DNA samples which would be at Nust.
“We have assembled a team which includes pathologists, police officers, mortuary technicians and nurses to start the process of identifying the deceased. This is a two-pronged process, firstly we have to document the evidence which may be used for later processes, this includes describing the bodies and taking photographs.
“The second part, which is the most crucial and started today (yesterday), is the process of actual identification. These bodies were burnt beyond recognition so it’s a process where we collect tissue samples from the deceased which we hand over to Nust genetics unit who will complete the process. Today (yesterday) we also collected reference samples from the relatives which we also handed over to Nust,” said Dr Jabangwe.
Meanwhile, the managing director of Brooklyn Express, Mr Nqobile Ndlovu yesterday expressed his condolences to the bereaved and availed themselves to fully co-operate with officials during the investigations on the cause of the accident.
“As a law-abiding business, we will wait for the official report regarding the accident from the investigating team and are co-operating with the relevant authorities. We have also communicated with our insurers and are working on assisting the victims while conscious of the fact that lives cannot be replaced. In our operations, this accident will serve as a startling reminder to continue to abide and exercise our commitment to high safety standards while trying our best to decrease the scourge of people smuggling gas canisters onto the bus,” said Mr Ndlovu.
In an unrelated incident a Toyota Quantum overturned yesterday along Khami Road in Bulawayo after the driver of the vehicle lost control while negotiating a curve. The driver, who was identified as Mabhunu, was rushed to Mpilo Central Hospital while the three passengers who were with him escaped unhurt. The visibly shaken passengers claimed they were coming from a drinking spree in town. Sunday News.