Tears of pain became tears of joy when a Makokoba family who had gathered to mourn one of their family members reported to have been among the 21 people who perished in Tsholotsho was said to be alive.
Bhonimah Nkomo (43) of Lupanda Village in Lupane was among the six who were declared dead on admission to Tsholotsho District Hospital, while 15 others had died on the spot.
The family had gathered in Makokoba for a funeral wake when two men came and broke the news that they had been sent by Bhonimah who was asking them to visit him at Mpilo hospital.
The family was really shocked and at the same time it became a celebration moment for them.
Nkomo’s aunt, Thelma Gumbo said: “In shock and disbelief, we trembled through to the hospital and thank God we found him. He was even speaking and told us that he was in so much pain. We are still clueless of what really transpired, but we believe he died and rose again. This is a miracle and we praise the Lord,” she said.
Nkomo revealed that they gathered after one of her sisters had received a phone call from Tsholotsho District Hospital officials telling her about Nkomo’s death.
“Nkomo was said to have died upon admission. After informing neighbours and relatives, we gathered for a funeral wake. We were shocked on Tuesday afternoon when two men came here saying Bhonimah had kindly asked them to inform me that he was in hospital and we should come see him,” she said.
Indeed when they got to the hospital, they found him alive, but in pain and he was being rushed to Intensive Care Unit.
Gumbo said they had not yet discussed ‘his death’ with him because according to their tradition, it was inhuman to tell one of such an incident.
“We wish he could share with us what happened and how he came back to life. One cannot be found on four to five lists and declared dead when they are actually alive,” she said.
Matabeleland North Provincial Medical Director Dr Nyasha Masuka confirmed that there had been a mix-up of names and Nkomo was indeed alive.
As the news crew followed up on the matter, Nkomo’s name had appeared on the list of deceased persons at Mpilo Central Hospital and his body had been reportedly transferred to United Bulawayo Hospitals among 13 other bodies which had been moved due to space shortage.
It has been noted that the body of Lovemore had been labelled as Bonimah but the mistake was however, rectified at the UBH mortuary. Lovemore’s family had struggled to find the body which was initially wrongly labelled.
The accident occurred at the 35km peg along the Tsholotsho-Sipepa Road near Jimila Centre when the driver of a truck ferrying 69 people failed to negotiate a curve resulting in the vehicle overturning and rolling several times.
A memorial service for 21 people who perished in the accident was held at Mpilo Central Hospital on Wednesday.