Saturday, 28 May 2016

I saw trapped dead bodies

Twenty-three-year-old Ms Maseline Makanda is one of the seven fortunate survivors of last Thursday’s Chitungwiza road accident that claimed 16 lives, including that of her six-year-old niece.

She is out of danger, but the same cannot be said of her five-year-old son who remains in Chitungwiza General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

All she can do is pray.

“I am in physical pain, but that does not compare to the emotional pain and torture I am going through. I lost a niece, and my son is in ICU.

“My heart sinks just thinking of losing him too. I pray he makes it,” she says, covering her watering eyes with a heavily bandaged hand as she speaks to The Sunday Mail at the hospital.

“Lesley was like my own daughter. Her parents separated some time back, and I assumed custody of her when she was still very young. She was almost the same age as my son; they were like twins.

“She was like my first born. She was in my arms when the accident happened and was one of the people who died on the spot.”

May 26, 2016 began like any other day for Ms Makanda.

She woke up around 6am as usual to prepare her son, Takudzwa, and Lesley for school.

I saw trapped dead bodies
She would do her domestic chores when the two were safely in their classrooms.

However, on this particular day, she decided to go back to bed; not feeling up to the task of tidying the house. Her sleep was cut short by a call from the school authorities who informed her that Lesley was unwell.

“When I fetched her from school, she was complaining of a mild headcahe. Somehow, I did not think of visiting the clinic; instead I came home and gave her some aspirin and she seemed fine.

“However, later in the day, she occasionally complained about the headache; therefore, I later called my sister (Lesley’s mother) who advised me to bring her to Marondera.”

At around 5pm, Ms Makanda, Lesley and Takudzwa boarded a kombi, the only one at the bus terminus at the time and headed for Marondera.

And since Lesley was not feeling well, she put her on her lap, while Takudzwa was with another passenger.

Little did she know this was the last time she would hold her in her arms.

It got dark quickly. She thought it was just another early winter night, but never did she imagine what evil was lurking in that darkness.

At the 51km peg along the Chitungwiza-Marondera Road, a Hino truck heading in the opposite direction encroached into their lane, resulting in a head-on collusion with the kombi.

“I did not scream when it happened, though many others in the kombi did. I still cannot explain how I managed to remain calm.

“I remember being trapped inside the vehicle for some time before being rescued,” says Ms Makanda.

“Some bodies were thrown outside while others were trapped. When I got out, I realised that most children we were travelling with, including my niece, had died.

“Takudzwa was still alive, though badly hurt.

“Lesley was growing so fast. She had turned into a tall, beautiful little girl and every time she recited the nursery rhyme ‘Myself’, she would say she wanted to be a pilot when she grew up.

“I was devastated to learn that 11 other people had died in that accident. I am still numb.

“Flashes of that horror keep coming to my eyes – whether I’m awake or asleep.”

Ms Makanda, a cross-border trader, says authorities should improve all roads to reduce such carnage.

“The Chitungwiza-Dema Road is very busy during this time of the year since it connects Harare with farming areas in Marondera and Hwedza. The responsible authorities should widen that road.

“It is by the grace of God that I survived and I am thankful. All I want now is for my son to get well so that I can go on with my life.”

Ms Makanda was discharged from hospital later yesterday – but her mind and heart are still in that ICU, praying that her little one recovers.

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