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    Friday, 27 October 2017

    A journalist eye-witness account of a fatal road accident

    ELLEN MLAMBO 

    CHIVHU BUREAU – Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian Calendar falls on Friday which happens at least once every year but can occur up to three times the same year.
    In 2017, it occurred twice; on January 13 and on October 13. The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name, triskaidekaphobia.
    Friday October 13, 2017 started like any other day for me. I never took special notice of the day and never have I taken serious the superstition linked to this day; in any case I don't belong to the Western culture and I did not grow with such socialisation.
    However, one thing I am cognisant of every morning when I leave the house is the danger of accidents always alive on Zimbabwe's roads. I live in Chivhu on whose stretch of roads some of the worst accidents have been reported in this country.
    My fears are made worse; in 2012 I deferred my first semester, first year at Midlands State University after a near fatal accident in which I was among four passengers injured when a vehicle I was travelling in got a rear tyre burst and veered off the road.
    On Friday October 13, I left Chivhu to attend a full council meeting in Mvuma and then proceeded to Gweru mid-morning. I boarded a Toyota Wish on my return to Chivhu from Gweru at around 330pm. Just as we left Gweru Showground, we could not help but notice a white kombi that overtook us at a curve at a high speed.
    The incident gripped every passenger in our vehicle and suddenly it was the subject of discussion. Passengers urged our driver not to compete against the kombi as the driving was obviously dangerous. 
    We all watched in horror the kombi driver kept the right lane for a long time after overtaking us. We watched him overtake two other vehicles and maintain the right lane for a long time.
    We felt for the passengers in that vehicle and it looked imminent that an accident was going to happen.
    Our driver later revealed that the kombi driver was drinking beer at the rank and that he also had some beer with him in the vehicle.
    Indeed after the Mvuma – Gweru toll gate, we found the driver standing there just by the roadside passing urine while his vehicle was parked. In no time, he overtook us again and continued with his reckless driving. This appeared to have gotten worse as he almost entirely drove on the right lane.
    The debate over his driving got pitched, until suddenly there were wild exclamations. Just after Downlands Shops, the kombi started swerving as it negotiated a curve and it veered off the road to the left before overturning several times.
    We got there and found the driver trapped inside and he had to be pulled out through the window. The kombi was not full and all the other passengers escaped either on their own or were helped out.
    We walked around trying to see what help the seriously injured passengers may need and disaster struck, a woman who was breathing just a while before started gasping and right there before us, she died. She had a big cut on the forehead and was bleeding profusely.
    Another man also appeared to be taking his last few breaths and some men at the scene got some tree branches and covered his face as they thought that he was dying. No one expected him to survive but suddenly there was a flicker and he moved his hand and removed the tree branches from his face.
    There was relief.
    "He is alive. He is recovering," said one man happy and astonished.
    Police did not take long to get to the scene. However, the driver of the kombi had already sneaked and ran away. Survivors confirmed our driver's account that the kombi driver who barely looked 25 was heavily drinking. There were several green bottles of beer at the scene.
    We also realised that most of the passengers were from Masvingo.
    We later drove off and a distance later we saw the driver standing near the road, probably trying to get a lift.
    It was Friday the 13th but the accident had nothing to do with the day. It was about speed and drunken driving. 
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