Social media erasing ‘real’ social relations


A group of Christians from various congregations thronged the Chinhamo accident scene for an all-night vigil of prayers offering a memorial service for the accident victims who perished after a commuter omnibus hit a tree early last month.


Ten people died in the mishap that left many demanding action from authorities to curb the unending road carnage that has left scores injured and families decimated following the deaths of breadwinners.

The emergence of social networks seems to have taken away the humanity in most witnesses to accidents, who have turned to taking pictures instead of helping victims. Some accident victims could have survived had onlookers done what was supposed to be done in normal situations.

We seem to have lost the moral high ground that we are so renowned for.

Smartphones are supposed to facilitate communication in accident situations, used to solicit for help to assist trapped victims,
instead most people are now abusing them some for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver to sell pictures to publishers looking for the scoop.

This is a personal account of what actually transpired on the fateful day as this reporter was among the first group of people to get to the accident scene and by then there were just three police officers who were getting help from the public, desperately trying to retrieve trapped victims from the wreckage.

At best those that had the audacity of stopping to have a look were actually finding out whether the victims could be in any way related to them.

It begs the Biblical question: “Who is my neighbour?”

What made the whole scenario inhuman and nauseating was that as minutes passed by and those trapped continued crying out for help, a few from the crowd that had gathered were helping in rescuing the victims while the rest were just standing by taking pictures of the deceased and the seriously injured.

One unidentified man who was standing within the crowd had to shout to the police to arrest the “photographers” or “citizen journalists” as they are now known.

“Why are the police not arresting these people who are taking pictures? Arrest these people. Can they not see that they are stepping onto the corpse only for them to take a mere picture, this is disgusting and must not be tolerated,” the man shouted.
Seemingly helpless one of the police officers could just plead with the crowd.

“Please, those who are taking pictures and not helping in any way can you please leave. We need space to work on [and] also these victims need air.”

This did not deter the public as they kept on flocking to the scene cramming to get clear pictures, and at times stepping onto the victims. Other victims were still trapped in the wreckage while another victim was lying face down writhing in pain waiting for help or volunteers to take her to hospital.

In no time at all, the pictures were awash all the social media platforms and were circulating like “hot buns”. Why the public decided to take pictures and not help in the rescue is better known to them.

Seasoned photographers are well aware that in an accident one cannot take pictures before rescuing victims.

“ . . . People have become insensitive and it seems like there is an actual race to see who has the most grotesque picture. When did bystanders switch from covering the dead with clothing to taking pictures of the deceased?” Mike Mambo commented on a Facebook status.

At most accident scenes it has become a trend that people rush to take pictures before rescuing the victims.

Even in the streets when people engage into a fight instead of people restraining them from fighting they just take out their smartphones and start taking pictures and videos.

It is the kind of behaviour that does not help or better still show the best of who we are as a people.

With the “social media craze” sweeping across the globe Zimbabwe needs not be left out, but we need to be cognisant of our values and the kind of society that we have always been.

This is aptly summed up in the comments that followed the publication of the pictures from the Chitungwiza accident scene.

Ndudzo Tugwete also cited the impact social media is now playing on ordinary people resulting in them not willing to help in accidents.

“People now have this misplaced perception that once they open Facebook accounts and have many followers, they suddenly have become journalists and are obliged to peddle stories as they please. They know not and care to know not any journalistic ethics and conducts in news reporting. It’s a pity. Anyway, such are the pitfalls of the social media,” Tugwete said.

Another friend who participated in the discussion explained how the pictures had gone viral.

“The rate at which the horrendous pics were shared on social networks before even the journalists had them is appalling. We were raised to respect such events and you wonder why almost every onlooker at the scene viewed the scene from the lens of their camera, very sad indeed,” he said.

Gone are the days when society used to have respect for the dead. Taking pictures of the dead was a taboo, such behavior in the rural areas resulted in one form of sanction or another.


  1. They will be excising their freedom of speach and human rights because there is no law which bars people from being journalists

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    • one day pauchakudubuka nemota yako uina amai vako iwe usina kukuvara and ivo vakuvara and you see people coming to take photos instead of helping ndipo pauchaona kuti ma chunks haasi nyama mufana, indava newewo usingafugi so???

  2. Yebo kambe there is no law that bars this ‘paparazzi journalism’ but why not help those that are in need? The human side of our upbringing has been lost, how sad. It is the same at the houses we live in – the wife is giggling away from her corner, the same goes for the husband and the children. Save your people Almighty!!

  3. There are so many Gumburas on social media, who can make the real Gumbura look like a choir boy displaying how they abused women with probably stolen phones who if police today would ask them to give an account of their work history the truth would be they’ve been abusing people long before cell phones had cameras and they have been getting away with it and now they are on social media. But anyway God always has ways of stopping these un touchable Tengendes and I hope they capture it too on social media

  4. There are so many Gumburas on social media, who can make the real Gumbura look like a choir boy displaying how they abused women with probably stolen phones who if police today would ask them to give an account of their work history the truth would be they’ve been abusing people long before cell phones had cameras and they have been getting away with it now they are on social media. But anyway God always has ways of stopping these un touchable unrepententTengendes and I hope they capture it too on social media

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  6. Africa is always majoring in the minor, how sad.ko iro benzi rikanonga pito rinoita sei?kwahi rinoiridza neparufu pose, sad zimbabwe sad indeed.

  7. Gandanga uchazonzwisisa chinonzi human right zvawira kwauri. Ethics also are applicable in human rights, don’t mislead people. Its time we engage government on issues of smartphones misuse.

  8. its so sad to note this
    shuwa here kuwana nguva yekutora ma pics and videos,when some1 IS IN PAIN. This is so inhuman.Arwadziwa chaiye haana nguva yekutora mapictures pascene ye accident. Mwari rangarirai nyika yedu

  9. Uchiita course waitanga wadzidziswa ma Safety Precautions ne First Aid now its no longer there. What new farmer, vendor or ‘ndinokiyakiya’ knows this? Munoda kuti vanhu vabate ropa ne bare hands? Mapurisa tutururu no medical aid kits fire brigade kana garon remvura. Mupurisa wemudhudhudhu akadona pa Sam Levy haana kusara achishinyira ambyrenzi yavo ichishuzura? Pasiparohwa nenyundo zvedi.

  10. ‘Zimbabwe shall never be a colony again’ is there a better way to show u that u are a colony already than going with no national currency or going overseas kunorapwa shohwera?

  11. ukapa dofo fon inekamera hapana chinobuda.most people especially zimbabweans think that a phone is the highest achievement they can have in their lives.then kwozoitawo anagandanga who crowbar the word rights into everything that tries to support human stupidity.what rights are u excercising by stepping on an injured to take fotos?its either uri dofo or you are just ignorant.

  12. Most people in Zimbabwe believe that having a car is the greatest achievement, resulting in them flouting road rules and turning cars into ‘moving coffins’.

  13. when i received one of the pictures i told the sender how incensetive he is and advised him to send same mesage to the one who had sent him same,yes people are right we need a law that bars people from taking photographs at accident scenes if they have nothing to contribute eg as witnesses after the accident especialy when people have lost lives,i hope this piece of lagislation can find its way in the road traffic act soon.

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  15. zvakaoma panyaya yemapictures,chatosara kuti mumwe achinyura mumvura mumwe achitora video. panyaya yekubatsira pa accident zvinoda uneruzivo rwekubatsira kwacho.munhu akasaziva anotouraya achifunga kuti ari kubatsira.

  16. I wonder why any normal person would want to take a video of a fellow human being or even an animal in pain. I thought this sadistic behaviuor was the preserve of the Politburo and the presideum of this country.

  17. I think its not right for anyone to help victims to safety unless they have the skills or risk killing the trapped.
    Taking pictures and lots of them has helped in insurance claims and the deceased photos will be availed should problems arise in compennsation issues. There is nothing really wrong as it will remind us of where and how we will end up if we continue to drive recklessly. Other civilised states mount horrifically crashed cars by road side to remind fools.

  18. @social good observation but lets be honest here its not about evidence for claims or compensation these photos are taken it is for people to just gossip and brag about how they were at the scene.what insurence claim will one get when i send you a picture of a dead baby.uriinsuarence company here iwe or you just look at the picture and say shame then you pass it on to the next they never said taking photos is bad but the circumstances are not apropriate

  19. it’s ovias kuti when something like that happens vanhu vakadaro havashaike hazvishamise they called for help but ASAP. but wega unomaketa masystem enyika yedu yezimbabwe.

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