Victor Maphosa and Rutendo Rori
GOVERNMENT will meet funeral expenses for 18 people who died in a horrific road accident near Mutoko Business Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Eight members of the Rutsito family, seven from the Chitimbe family and three people, who are still to be identified, perished in the accident.
Both families are from Mutoko and were travelling on holiday.
The accident occurred at the 130km peg along the Harare-Nyamapanda highway when a white Isuzu KB double cab truck belonging to the Rutsito family and travelling towards Murehwa, collided head-on with a BMW in which the Chitimbe family had boarded a lift that was travelling towards Mutoko.
Fourteen people died on the spot, while the remainder succumbed to their injuries on admission to Mutoko Hospital.
The director in the Department of Civil Protection Mr Nathan Nkomo said the Government will assist in the burial of the deceased.
“For those with funeral policies, Government will assist with $2 500 per head and for those without funeral policies, Government will avail coffins and transport.
“To those who are currently hospitalised, Government will assist by meeting all the medical bills,” he said.
When The Herald arrived at the scene, wreckages of both vehicles were still present.
Passing motorists would stop to catch a glimpse of the mangled vehicles.
A member of the Rutsito family in Mutoko, Mr Munyaradzi Kabasa, confirmed that eight members of his family died in the crash.
“We are pained by this unexpected death which took away eight people from our family. Masimba Rutsito was my brother and was aged 39. He and his family had come home to visit from Harare. On their way back, that is when they met their fate.
“He was driving the Isuzu double cab and in the car were 12 people who included his wife Audrey Mavhunga, his children — Malcom, Naishe and Makomborero. Also in the car was our uncle, Simbarashe Mapuranga and his wife Grace Madzinga together with their child, Samuel. All these perished in the accident.
“Those who were injured are Kupakwashe and Maxwell Rutsito, Patricia Mapuranga and one Gamuchirai who was a maid to Masimba’s family.
“They have been transferred to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and they are critical. They need our prayers. We are in great pain.”
He said the family was yet to deliberate on the burial arrangements.
The Herald also managed to track down the Chitimbe family who also live in Mutoko District.
Dozens of mourners were already gathered at the Chitimbe homestead.
The Chitimbe family lost six members — Abigail Chitimbe (30), Nyasha Chikuza (7), Tawananyasha, Major Mushumbi (7), Sandra Kanobata (19) and Ngaakudzwe Nkolomah (1).
Chitimbe family spokesperson Mr Richard Chitimbe said they have already finished burial arrangements.
“My sister Abigail and her two children Nyasha and Tawananyasha had visited a relative in Tabudirira, a few kilometers from here. She took with her, three of my elder sister’s children Major, Sandra and Ngaakudzwe.
“On their way back, they were given a lift in a BM vehicle which had a head on collision with an Isuzu vehicle. They all died. The family is in pain. We were looking forward to seeing them here yesterday, only to receive the bad news.
“We will bury them tomorrow (today). We are appealing for any kind of assistance from well wishers to help in conducting burial of our family members,” said Mr Chitimbe in tears.
The Mashonaland East Department of Civil Protection yesterday requested the Government to declare the accident, a national disaster.
Mashonaland East Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Aplonia Munzverengwi, sent a message of condolence to the families of the deceased and wished the injured, a speedy recovery.
Meanwhile, one person died while 10 others were injured when a Inter Africa bus plying the Harare-Mutare road veered off the road at the 100 km peg along Harare-Mutare road.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the accident in a statement.
“The ZRP is investigating the circumstances which led to the death of a woman aged 44 years old and injury to other 10 passengers when an Inter Africa Bus (Mukumba Brothers) travelling from Harare to Mutare veered off the road at the 100 km peg along Harare-Mutare Road, Macheke on December 28, 2020. The driver failed to control the bus and it landed on the right side. The victim was then trapped.”
He urged motorists to be cautious on the road.