Update: Hwedza Church Shrine accident death toll now 13.
Six of the 13, who are mostly the church’s members, died on the spot while the other seven were pronounced dead upon arrival at Mount St Mary’s Mission Hospital. The injured were admitted to the same hospital.
Thirteen people died and seven others were injured at the Mugodhi shrine in Hwedza along the Hwedza-Mutiweshiri Road yesterday morning, after a lorry carrying maize veered off the road and ran over them while they were waiting for transport on the roadside.
The accident occurred in Chitope area where thousands of Mugodhi church members are gathered for their passover. National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the accident and said police were conducting investigations.
“The accident occurred around 11am along Hwedza-Mutiweshiri Road when a truck carrying maize side swiped a bus which had encroached into its lane. “The lorry hit a Toyota Hilux and ran over church members who were standing by the roadside, waiting for transport,” he said.
When our Harare Bureau arrived at the scene, police were busy loading the bodies into their truck and they took them to Mt St Mary’s Mission Hospital mortuary. Some of the congregants were busy covering the blood on the ground with soil while the lorry had stopped at the edge of the road.
The director in the office of the Minister of State for Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Muchemwa Mugwisi, who attended the scene, said there was a need to relocate the churches to a place which has enough space.
“We need a long term solution to this, we need to find space for these churches in an area that is not a threat to human life. We have two churches with lots of congregants and this place is crowded given its proximity to the road,” he said.
One of the church leaders Bishop Tony Sigauke said the apostolic sect was now appealing for assistance from Government and well-wishers to assist with the burial of its members.
“We have never experienced such a tragedy since we started worshipping here in 1962. We had our Passover Feast last night and some decided to go back home despite the event concluding on April 21.
“We lost 10 of our members. We are going to cut the event short so that we mourn together as a family. Those who died were from Buhera,” he said. A witness said that the lorry driver was speeding before he lost control and ran over the people.
“There are a lot of people at this place and because of parking space problems, drivers leave their cars along the highway on both sides leaving a narrow single lane. So the driver of the lorry who was speeding wanted to avoid a head on collision with a bus that was going in the opposite direction.
“He veered off the road and ran over people and their goods. If he had not hit the pick-up truck first it was going to be worse,” he said.
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