The following story was narrated to TWSC Contributor Naume Mubure by a woman who wishes to remain anonymous.
It was 2 December 2017, a normal day when we all woke up and prepared for our daily work. As usual, we gathered as a team and praised God through songs and prayed for journey mercies. This working day involved shifting from one location of work to another, so our journey of more than 200 kilometres began.
Everyone was jovial and happy to be shifting camp as this meant we were drawing closer to finishing our work and going back to our families. Our assignments took us away from our families for 63 working days, though at times we would break for a few days to go and check on our families.
We made a brief stop along the way where some of us had a chance to get a glimpse of our families. We then proceeded to what was to be our final destination.
Tragedy struck when we were left with less than 5 kilometres to our destination. I was one of the few people who were sitting at the front with the driver. However, I did not see what really happened.
What I remember is people were cautioning the driver not to overspeed. At one point, the driver drove so slowly that one could drop off and keep pace with the truck. Then suddenly, he started to overspeed again. I understand the truck, carrying about 65 people, overturned and claimed 22 lives: some on the spot, some on the way to the hospital and some at the hospital.
I was counted as one of the people who had died on the spot. I believe I had passed out at the scene. What I recall is that I heard a voice calling me as if it was coming from afar. I was telling myself that I wouldn’t respond to a person calling from afar. The voice kept on calling until it was so near that I tried to respond, but I could not speak. The only reaction I managed was to blink my eyes. I then heard someone shout, “Uyaphila!” (meaning ‘she is alive’). The voice then said to me, “We have been involved in an accident, so we are going to try to remove you from beneath the truck.”
I was removed from beneath the truck to a place which was deemed safe. That is when I started hearing the screams of others who were still trapped. Villagers were busy trying to help. I tried to get up to go and assist, but I couldn’t. Little did I know that I had a head injury and injuries on both my legs and feet. I was not feeling anything at that moment.
I was then ferried to the hospital in a truck that was carrying river sand. It was tragic to see friends and colleagues pass on right in front of you in the truck. The nearest hospital couldn’t attend to my condition. I was quickly transferred to Mpilo Hospital, where I was hospitalized for three weeks and then taken to recuperate at home.
When this tragedy happened, I had just received an offer letter to further my studies, and my son was awaiting his Grade 7 results. His results came when I was in a hospital bed. I couldn’t move. I passed urine using a tube. My son had passed with flying colours, but I couldn’t even hug him or celebrate with him.
Worst of all, I couldn’t even assist him in looking for a Form 1 (first year of high school) place. Friends, family and colleagues took over and did the school search and everything else. My husband took leave from work to help care for me. He bathed me and would take me to relieve myself even at night.
I slowly recovered through the support of my husband, children, colleagues and family. I went to school, and the first year was a struggle. It would take me 20 minutes to walk a 100-metre distance. I would be taken to the hospital daily in the morning before lectures to dress the wounds.
What amazed me is that I passed with five distinctions and one credit during my first year. I sometimes recall that day, and it gives me goosebumps. I cry sometimes. Three years down the line, I made a commitment to serve the Lord and enrolled into the school of ministry. The tragedy has taught me to depend on God and trust in Him. To me, this accident was a lease to a new life.