THE BODIES of nine Zimbabweans who perished near Polokwane, South Africa, in a road crash involving an Intercape bus last Friday were yesterday repatriated back home in nine hearses, which brought the normally hectic Beitbridge Border Post to a standstill.
Fellow cross-border travellers, shipping agents, journalists, security agents and border officials alike watched in awe as a South African Traffic Police car wailed into the Zimbabwe Customs yard, leading the convoy of the hearses and a bus carrying relatives of the deceased.
The bodies of Anenyasha Choga (18 months), her mother Asichile Lewawanya (38), Memory Masara (22), Tafadzwa Nyatsine (22), Nokuthula Tiny Maarah (22), Tanaka Nhundu (22), Peter Sithole (48) Joyce Chapingidza (58) and Alois Tapiwa Chani (18) were escorted by one of the Intercape directors, Adriaan Maloney.
Beitbridge chairperson of the Civil Protection Unit, Kilibone Ndou, led a team of government officials to meet and address relatives of the deceased aboard the bus provided by Intercape.
Walter Tapiwa Choga, the father of baby Anenyasha, described the anxiety he felt when the bus failed to arrive in Johannesburg at 8am as per schedule.
“I called the company (Intercape) and they kept saying they would come back to me, but when my WhatsApp came on, I saw the horror news on social media,” he said.
“That is when they called to say there had been an accident and I drove with a friend to Polokwane, where we searched all the hospitals, then mortuaries and there they were.”
Maloney said video footages recorded during the accident showed the driver had his eyes wide open, but must have been reckless.
“It is human error. Our buses record the behaviour of the driver and he was wide awake,” he said.
“The South Africa Road Accident Fund provided coffins for the deceased, bought the graves while Intercape is paying all expenses for the relatives.”