By Leonard Ncube
A 16-year-old boy from Lupane was crushed to death on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway near Cross Jotsholo when a haulage truck ran over him while he was filling potholes on the road.
The accident occurred on Friday and the truck was going towards Bulawayo carrying coal.
Simelebona Bongani Ndebele from Gumede village under Chief Mabhikwa, was herding cattle with other boys when they reportedly started filling potholes with soil.
This comes as motorists have expressed concern at the state of the potholed highway as driving along it has become a nightmare.
Simelebona, a Form Two pupil at Mlamuli Secondary School and some other boys had reportedly taken it upon themselves to rehabilitate a section of the road near their village by covering potholes with soil.
The boy’s uncle Mr Sibangani Ngwenya said the family was devastated.
“We are heartbroken as a family. He was herding cattle with other boys when he was hit by a vehicle.
“Motorists have created side roads to avoid potholes and the boys who were with him said the truck was driving off the road when it hit him,” said Mr Ngwenya.
He said the truck ran over him and dragged him for about 30 metres.
Police attended the scene and took the boy’s body to St Luke’s Hospital.
“We appeal to Government to repair the road because it is very bad and cars are creating side roads which is dangerous for villagers who are sometimes helping to fill the potholes. As a family we have lost a member and have to bear costs that were never planned for,” said Mr Ngwenya.
Hwange West MP Mr Godfrey Dube was among the first witnesses to arrive at the scene soon after the accident.
He said when he arrived, the truck had just stopped a distance away while the boy’s body was lying on the tarmac.
“The driver said he only saw the boy at a close range and could not apply brakes. The boy had been filling potholes with others and he wanted to cross the road to pick up a harrow on the other side when he was hit.
“Government should prioritise the rehabilitation of the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road which is a very busy road. If the potholes were not there the boy wouldn’t have died. This is a highway which leads to our tourism capital and these villagers are good Samaritans who are filling potholes not for money but just to help motorists.
“Government should assist the bereaved family considering the boy was killed while helping to fill the potholes,” said Mr Dube.
The Chronicle could not verify details of the truck company.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda was not readily available for comment yesterday. The Chronicle