West Nicholson bus disaster: 28 victims identified 

Source: West Nicholson bus disaster: 28 victims identified | The Herald 01 DEC, 2018

Nqobile Tshili Bulawayo Bureau

The National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has identified 28 out of 30 charred remains of people who died in the bus explosion in Gwanda’s West Nicholson two weeks ago.

The accident occurred when a South Africa-bound bus coming from Zvishavane caught fire allegedly due to gas cylinder explosion.

It led to the death of 33 people, with 30 of them being burnt beyond recognition, while 27 survived with serious injuries.

Following the bus disaster, Government engaged the National University of Science and Technology’s Applied Genetic Testing Centre (AGTC) lab to assist in the identification of the 30 victims.

Yesterday, the Government pathologist, police, Civil Protection Unit members and AGTC officials converged at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) mortuary office to brief each other on the developments regarding the identification of the victims’ charred remains.

In an interview, Mangwe District Administrator Ms Rorisang Makhurane, who was representing Matabeleland South Provincial Administrator Ms Sithandiwe Ncube, said Nust’s AGTC lab has identified 28 victims.

“You should come tomorrow, that’s when you would be briefed more about this issue,” she said.

“But in brief, we have managed to identify 28 victims from the 30 who were burnt beyond recognition. I don’t have information on the other two bodies. But we have informed relatives of those whose remains have been identified. They are expected to come to the hospital mortuary at 8am to collect their remains and if you want more (information) you can come tomorrow.”

Ms Makhurane declined to comment further, saying Ms Ncube would be in position to give more information.

Earlier in the week, AGTC’s Mr Zephaniah Dhlamini had said two families had not come forward to provide samples that would lead to the identification of their relatives. A source said most of the remains were just ashes.

“When people lose their relatives through death, body viewing plays an important part in providing closure for the affected families,” he said.

“But this is different. There are no bodies to view. Some of the remains are just ashes which fit in a small plastic bag. You can imagine what those families are going to face tomorrow (today) when they come to collect the remains of their relatives.

“No one would want something like that to visit their family.”

The source said relatives of the deceased might need counselling so that they can come to terms with the loss of the relatives.