For over a decade, families of 35 victims have been pleading for answers after the bus they were travelling in plunged into the flooded Rwenya River in 2013 – an untold disaster finally revealed with the construction of a new bridge.
Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri spoke of the “sad and untold story” while commissioning the $5 million Rwenya Bridge. She said the passenger bus, carrying 35 people, tried to cross the river on the night the original bridge was swept away but was overcome by the heavy current. The bus and all its occupants were swallowed up by the raging floodwaters.
To this day, the remains of the victims and wreckage of the bus have not been recovered, stoking fears they were swept into the Indian Ocean due to the area’s proximity to Mozambique.
Relatives of the missing passengers have been left in limbo, desperately seeking closure. Muchinguri-Kashiri urged government officials to work together under the Missing Persons Act to declare the victims officially missing, which would allow their estates to be settled.
The tragedy highlights ongoing dangers in the area. Though demining efforts are ongoing, landmines planted during the liberation war continue to kill and maim people and animals around Rwenya, with over 1,500 casualties since independence.
While Zimbabwe has made significant progress clearing landmines, an estimated 35 square kilometres remain – including around Rwenya River. The government aims to make the entire country landmine-free by 2025.
For now, the families of the 35 victims of the Rwenya bus plunge remain in painful limbo, pleading for authorities to properly investigate the 2013 tragedy and provide long-overdue answers. Until then, the full scale of this forgotten loss of life will likely remain untold.