Trust you all had a safe and wonderful Christmas.
By Ropafadzo Mapimhidze
I was enjoying quality time with my good friends Ivy and Charles Nyamariwata when we received sad news about the tragic passing on of a lovely young lady who had become part of their family.
We were having fun at the Nyamariwata residence in Adyllin, Westgate Area when the sad news about the death of Rumbidzai Makumbe Mhuriro (26) was relayed to us.
Rumbidzai is daughter of the late Professor John Mudiwawashe Makumbe who died on Sunday, 27 January, 2013 at the Arcadia Medical Centre in Harare aged 65.
The young woman, who worked for a local bank, had earlier in the year wed her fiancée Hilary Mhuriro who works for a local non-governmental organisation and they lived at a beautiful flat located at this Adyllin property.
You can imagine the shock that hit this Adyllin family who were actually expecting the couple in a few days.
They were speechless as a pastor from Cranborne Community Church broke the news to them.
It was so unbelievable that such a young couple who were so deeply in love could be separated so soon.
We all wept quietly.
It was news that was too difficult to comprehend, but was confirmed when we arrived at the Makumbe residence in Ashbrittle, where mourners were gathered.
The couple had been travelling to Buhera, then Matopos for Christmas in the company of Virginia Makumbe, Rumbi’s mum and her two brothers.
Her mother was initially driving the car, before she decided to hand over the wheels to her son-in-law Hilary Mhuriro.
Shortly afterwards disaster struck hardly 15 kilometres before Chivhu.
Rumbi was thrown out of the vehicle as it rolled over three times and died instantly.
Everyone else survived, save for her mother who is admitted in the Intensive Care Unit at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Her two brothers and husband only learnt of Rumbi’s death the following day.
I felt compelled to write about this because I had interacted so much with the late Prof Makumbe, who hails from Buhera where I also come from.
He always spoke highly of his daughter Rumbi, whom he described as a sweet and loveable young woman. They had a strong father-daughter bond. He adored her so much.
He was looking forward to Rumbidzai’s wedding, but he died four months before he could hand his daughter in marriage to Hilary.
Everybody that I spoke to at the Ashbrittle home expressed shock at the untimely death of a woman who had announced to her family just before she left for that fateful trip that she was expecting.
Rumbidzai joins the list of fatalities from this year’s festive season accidents which had so far claimed over 60 lives by end of day on Thursday.
Rumbidzai’s father, Prof Makumbe was a renowned academic, researcher and politician who was always bold, courageous, had an unflinching personality and had several brushes with the State security agents for questioning human rights abuses and corruption.
He was also a girl child activist.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death, after heart disease, stroke, lower respiratory infection, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diarrhoeal diseases, HIV and Aids, trachea bronchitis and diabetes.
Road traffic injuries are further said to be the number one cause of death in the 15 to 29 age group worldwide.
Experts say human errors, vehicle breakdowns; non-roadworthy vehicles, poor road conditions and environmental factors like poor weather are the major causes of accidents in Zimbabwe, especially on major highways.
A friend who was returning from Honde Valley on Christmas Eve expressed her disgust at how motorists were driving at dangerous along the Mutare-Harare motorway.
“I saw Kombis, Mercedes Benzes, and many other types of cars ‘flying’ on the road at speeds which I cannot describe. To imagine that this is happening in Zimbabwe where roads are in such a bad shape, it is no wonder road carnage keeps rising,” she said.
The motorist who caused the accident that killed Rumbidzai did not stop and sped off. The car had no registration number.
But there are also many other reasons why driving standards have also reached this low.
When authorities make it so difficult for its country folk to attain a driver’s licence, the result is that they resort to the most improper means to get one.
There are stories of people that have allegedly obtained a driver’s licence while seated in their offices.
I have seen some former touts who are now plying the roads carrying passengers in vehicles they drive.
Is getting a driver’s license that easy I wonder?
And when the police stop these kombis, conductors that carry the money bag drop off to meet the cops.
Why does that happen?
Those, coupled with uncouth traffic malpractices where broken-down vehicles are left in the middle of the road with no red triangles, have made the roads too hazardous for motorists to manoeuvre.
Death of one person is a huge loss to a family and the nation at large. Zimbabwe is losing vital human resources through these accidents. And for how long shall we sit and watch as more and more people die on our deadly roads?
This is a serious matter that needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
Zero tolerance against this menace should be declared all year round, just like how the HIV and Aids pandemic has been addressed.
Rumbidzai will be buried today at Glen Forest Memorial Park in Harare.
Rest in Peace Chinjanja Rumbi, and everyone else that have died during this festive period.