TWENTY-ONE government health workers died, while 50 others were in critical condition when a truck they were travelling in overturned in Tsholotsho on Saturday.
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
The malaria control team was on a mission to spray every household in Matabeleland North province when the driver, who survived the accident, failed to negotiate a curve at Jimila near Tsholotsho business centre.
Villagers helped retrieve the dead bodies that were trapped underneath the truck.
Matabeleland North provincial medical health director, Nyasha Masuka confirmed the deaths and injuries, adding some injured personnel had been transferred to Bulawayo.
“I confirm that 21 workers died, most of them on the spot. Twenty-six are admitted here [Tsholotsho], 20 are at Mpilo [Central] Hospital, while the other four are at United Bulawayo Hospitals, so all in all they were 71. The two at Mpilo are in a critical condition as they sustained head injuries together with other five who are a bit less critical, but all the survivors sustained varying degrees of injuries and fractures.”
Tshayile headman, under Jimila Village, Thanda Gumbo, said a dark cloud hung over the village after the tragic accident.
“They were coming from Lupane to spray the whole district. We had been notified of their programme and it is very, very sad.
“We spent almost all night at the scene trying to rescue survivors and it was a job that required every villager’s help. The driver did not die and we heard that he was drunk and as a result failed to negotiate a well-known dangerous curve.
“Some of the people who died were well-known in the area and related to some villagers and up to now, the situation is somber.” he said.
The yellow overalls team is popularly known Omafafaza in the province and they were in Victoria Falls a few days ago carrying out a similar programme.
Team members come from seven districts that is Nkayi, Bubi, Tsholotsho, Umguza, Lupane and Hwange and Binga.
Provincial police spokesperson, Siphiwe Makonese could not be reached for comment.