Boy dies after being hit by train while listening to music on his phone through earphones


Seventeen-year-old Anotidaishe Nkomo of Hobhouse suburb in Mutare succumbed to the head injuries he sustained when he was hit by a goods train last week on Thursday.

As fate would have it, Anotidaishe’s painful death ignited serious debate in social circles on whether his was a case of suicide or an accident given the circumstances leading to the teenager’s untimely demise.

Several schools of thought have been proffered about the circumstances leading to the 17-year-old’s death.

Agreed facts are that Anotidaishe was listening to music with earphones on both his ears.

It is also said the teen was set to meet a certain young lady, believed to be his girlfriend.

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Apparently, the alleged girlfriend is the last person the youngster talked to over the phone and she was also one of the earliest persons to arrive at the accident scene.

However, some believe that young Anotidaishe committed suicide.

Mr Adventure Marowero, one of the few people to witness the accident said: “The young man received a signal from a lone man who was standing from a distance. The man actually called out to him and signalled that a train was coming.

“Anotidaishe raised his head and actually signalled back with a thumps-up gesture saying ‘it’s okay’. I witnessed all this and I was dumb-founded because I did not understand why the young man would signal that it is all okay when the train was almost about to crush him to death.

“It is very difficult, if not impossible for me not to buy the suicide narrative. It looks like a clear case of suicide because the boy saw the train coming his way and the result was obvious,” said Mr Marowero.

Ms Jessica Sithole who also arrived at the scene moments after the incident said: “Even though I did not witness the incident unfolding, I find it strange that someone, even with earphones on, could not feel the vibration of an oncoming train.

“Remember, the vibration of these trains have caused cracks on houses near the railway line due to their intensity. lt is unbelievable that the young man did not feel the vibration,” said Ms Sithole.

Mr George Magosvongwe who lives near the area where the incident occurred said: “It could be possible that the young man did not hear the sound of the hooting train, nor feel the vibration. Many people have committed suicide around this area so the spirits of those who died around the area might have seized the young man.”

Many souls have been lost around the same area between Zimta Park and Dreamhouse along the Harare-Mutare railway line.

Actual statistics were not readily available as the police said they did not have them when contacted for comment.

However, countless cases of suicide as well as accidents involving persons with mental health problems have been reported around the area.

Ironically, many lovebirds, especially youths from surrounding suburbs of Chikanga Phase Two and Three, Dreamhouse, Bernwin, Hobhouse and Zimta Park, enjoy taking walks hand-in-hand along the railway line.

Mutare Ward 16 Councillor Sekai Cathrine Mukodza, under whose jurisdiction the area falls, encouraged people to be more cautious while using the roads.

“If we look at the incident that happened recently, the young man had his earphones on and was listening to music. If that was indeed the cause of the accident, then it is sad to have lost a life in that manner.

“l urge our youths to be vigilant while on the road. Earphones must be used while settled, not on the road. This incident is clear evidence of that.

“However, we are also mindful of the fact that some of the cases that have occurred along the railway line are pure suicide cases and in that respect, I urge people to share their problems and get amicable solutions.

“The third and last aspect is that of drug abuse. It is a fact that we have a problem of drug abuse as a country. Some of our youths are taking drugs and in their drunken stupor, they end up risking their lives.

“I am not saying this is what happened last week on Thursday, but we may have such incidents and that is why I am buying balls for football teams in my ward so that these youngsters have something to keep them away from drugs,” said Councillor Mukodza.

National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)’s acting public relations manager, Mr Martin Banda said there is an increase in suicide cases and accidents along railway lines.

“The NRZ has observed with concern the disturbing increasing incidence of rail/road level crossing accidents as well as suicide cases along its railway system countrywide in recent weeks and months.

“It is saddening and highly disturbing that we continue to lose precious human lives almost every month.

“The sad loss of precious and irreplaceable human lives through rail/road level crossings should remind all of us of our obligations to protect life and limb.

“Furthermore, suicidal cases involving people who throw themselves in front of on-coming trains are also on the increase, a scenario that is of major concern to the NRZ and the public at large. People should seek counselling and advice when confronted with sad and mentally disturbing situations. Many people are facing social problems but committing suicide it is not the right solution to that,” said Mr Banda.

“Statistics show suicidal cases increasing in January and September, which could be attributed to the so-called January disease and school fees dilemma. Rejection and societal stigma are possibly contributing to suicidal cases.

“Recorded statistical figures of people who died after throwing themselves in front of oncoming trains reveal that in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the country lost 12, eight and 27 people respectively. This year alone, from January to end of August, we recorded 38 cases, a trend which is very much disturbing.

“On the other hand, from January 2022 to date, 66 accidents occurred at rail/road level crossings, with a total of 54 injuries and six fatalities. We therefore urge all drivers to put on a human face when driving on our roads so as to protect and save precious and irreplaceable human lives,” said Mr Banda.

He added: “The NRZ is doing everything possible to engage other stakeholders, including local authorities and relevant Government departments, to implement short term and medium term plans aimed at reducing rail level crossing accidents.

“This includes the construction of speed humps and the installation of flashing signals in order to warn motorists when approaching rail level crossings, among other measures meant to reduce the number of rail/road level crossing accidents at the affected areas.

“As a long term measure, the construction of fly-over roads at rail level crossings will be considered, depending on the availability of financial resources.

“Let us all act and be responsible when driving on our roads as responsible citizens of Zimbabwe. Remember you cannot win an argument with a train,” said Mr Banda.

— Manica Post

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