AT least 35 people reportedly perished after the bus they were travelling in plunged into the flooded Rwenya River following the sweeping away of the bridge that linked Nyanga and Mudzi in 2013, The Manica Post can reveal.
The untold disaster was revealed recently when President Mnangagwa commissioned the 206-metres long Rwenya Bridge.
The undocumented accident reportedly happened on the night when the bridge was swept away and for a decade now, relatives of the victims are still waiting for closure on the fate of their relatives.
The unnamed bus crew tried to navigate their way to the other side of the river, but as they manoeuvred, the heavy current swept the bus away.
All the passengers and the bus were swallowed by the raging floods.
Up to this day, the remains of the passengers and the wreckage of the bus are yet to be recovered.
Fears abound that the victims were swept into the Indian Ocean because of the area’s proximity to the neighbouring Mozambique.
Giving her vote of thanks after the commissioning of the $5 billion Rwenya Bridge, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said all 35 passengers who were on the bus perished after it was swept away by the flooded river.
“There is a sad and untold story that happened when Rwenya Bridge was swept away by the 2013 floods. A bus with 35 passengers wanted to cross the river and was swept away. They all perished and their remains are yet to be found.
“We have some of the relatives of the missing persons today. They are still eagerly waiting to know the fate of their beloved ones who perished in that disaster.
“They want closure on this emotive issue. We implore the two ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution (Manicaland and Mashonaland East) to work together and approach the relevant officers so that the victims will be declared missing persons and bring closure to this painful issue.”
She added: “The issue of climate change and the resultant disasters always bring butterflies in our tummies, a reason we say we have a lot of work to do to safeguard our people from the natural disasters.”
The Missing Persons Act provides for the presumption of death of a person who is missing, or for the care and administration of the estate of such a person and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.
Chapter 5:14 of the Missing Persons Act states that: “Any person who wishes to apply for an order in respect of a missing person shall lodge with the Clerk of the Court of the province in which that person was ordinarily resident immediately before his disappearance an application in the prescribed form accompanied by such other documents as may be prescribed.
“Where the applicant for an order is not a person who is the nearest relative of the missing person, the Clerk of the Court shall cause such relative to be notified of the application. Subject to such directions as a magistrate may deem necessary or desirable, the Clerk of the Court with whom an application has been lodged in terms of subsection (1) shall as soon as possible publish at the expense of the applicant a notice in the prescribed form — (a) once in the Gazette and in a newspaper circulating in the area in which the person in respect of whom the order is applied for was ordinarily resident.”
Meanwhile, although Government has made significant progress in demining the country, land-mines planted by the Rhodesian Forces during the liberation struggle are still killing and maiming both people and animals in the Rwenya area.
Landmine danger warning signs are displayed on roadsides from Fombe to Rwenya Bridge.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said more than 1 500 people were either killed or maimed by land-mines in the area from the days of the liberation struggle up to this day.
“This area was used as a gateway to Mozambique during the liberation struggle. The Rhodesian Forces planted a lot of land-mines and they are still killing and maiming people and animals.
“At the attainment of independence, the country had 375 square kilometres planted with land-mines. Government and its development partners teamed up to demine the land-mines across the country.
“I am happy to announce that we are now left with less than 35 square kilometres of land to be demined. We are now working on finishing the clearing of land-mines around Rwenya River.
“Zimbabwe was recently rated as the best country in clearing land-mines. We want to make sure that the country will be free of land-mines by 2025,” she said.