IT was double tragedy for the Highfield community when a 54-year-old man died after falling off a moving truck while on their way from burying a neighbour.
Window Chitatu — who was popularly known as Uncle Tato in Canaan — was pronounced dead upon arriving at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital.
The incident occurred near Granville Cemetery on Sunday.
Uncle Tato was reportedly among people who watered and put final touches to the grave of their female neighbour.
One of his friends, Tanatswa Maringazuva, told H-Metro that Uncle Tato was run over by the truck after he fell, a version vehemently denied by the truck driver Owen Chiteru.
“Uncle Tato was seated on the truck board edge when he fell and we shouted to the driver to stop, but he did not take heed,” said Maringazuva.
“We continued shouting and he later stopped and we jumped off the truck and picked him.
“He was drunk, but we were not happy with the driver for refusing to stop after informing him about the tragedy.
“Uncle Tato vaizivakanwa nekucherera vanhu mvura paborehole, kutsemura huni nekubatsira zvakawanda pandufu saka zvakatirwadza kuti vaende nenzira yekutsikwa nemotokari.
“The driver went on to dump Uncle Tato at a house opposite the place where mourners were gathered. We forced him to lodge a police road traffic accident report and we ferried Uncle Tato to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival,” said Maringazuva.
Chiteru denied hitting the deceased, saying the case was under investigation.
“Uncle Tato fell down before I moved the truck and he was visibly drunk together with the other guys,” said Chiteru.
“He was lifted back into the truck and I drove them back to the house where mourners were gathered only to be called later that the guy had passed on.
“The case is now under police investigation and we are waiting for post-mortem results,” he said.
Uncle Tato’s family spokesperson Eurita Benhura told H-Metro that the deceased was a diabetic and epilepsy patient.
“As a family, we were shocked by the sudden passing on of a loving and caring man at a time when he was helping one of our neighbours,” said Benhura.
“We are not sure of what actually happened at the cemetery where he was reported to have fallen off a moving truck.
“We are waiting for post-mortem results and we will be in a position to comment further concerning the tragedy,” she said.
Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Simon Chazovachii confirmed the tragedy, saying the driver faces capable homicide charges.
He warned people against clinging to moving vehicles and merrymaking at funerals.
“Police report and investigations with a view to finding the cause of death are in progress,” said Insp Chazovachii.
“It is sad to lose life while burying another person and we are strongly warning people who cling to moving vehicles that they face arrest.
“Drivers should not overload passengers or allow people to cling to moving vehicles.
“In this incident, circumstances at hand show that the now deceased fell off a moving Toyota Diana truck driven by a man aged 38.
“The now deceased complained of stomach pains and was taken home and later to Sally Mugabe Central Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arriving,” said Insp Chazovachii.