FUNGAI Makanyire (45) felt searing hot pain on her left shoulder and momentarily lost balance, but survival instincts quickly kicked in and she continued running, dragging her 13-year-old daughter.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
“I had no idea at the time that I had been shot from behind. I just felt this indescribable pain on my shoulder but I did not stop to check,” she said, reclining on her bed at Parirenyatwa Hospital.
Makanyire is one of the several victims who became collateral damage as they were shot and injured during the military crackdown as the army sought to contain a protest by suspected MDC Alliance supporters over the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s delay in announcing results for the presidential ballot.
Still in shock and traumatised beyond measure, the widowed mother of four said she would never forget the horror incident last Wednesday.
It was just like any ordinary day for Makanyire and her children who reside in Hatcliffe. As she exchanged easy banter with her brood, she had no idea that a few hours later she would experience a dark moment that would leave a permanent scar on her psyche.
Unaware of the commotion in the central business following running battles between the military and ordinary people on the streets, Makanyire accompanied her daughter into town.
“She was going away on holiday and I just wanted to make sure she got on the right bus,” the mother recalled.
Makanyire continuously broke down during the interview with NewsDay Weekender, but insisted on telling her story although some of the injured refused to grant interviews, preferring to deal with their pain privately.
“When we got to the terminus at the Charge Office, there was not a commuter omnibus in sight. We were a bit perplexed and asked a passer-by where we could get transport,” she wipes tears which were streaming down her face.
Her soft brown eyes clouded with emotion as she relived the horrific and cruel incident.
“Slowly we were now aware of trouble as people were running and tripping over each other. Armed soldiers were everywhere but I never thought they would shoot us,” she says.
As they came close to the National Railways of Zimbabwe main station, an armed soldier standing in the middle of the road ordered them to go back where they had come from.
“There was so much commotion and it was very confusing, but we complied and turned to go back the way we had come,” she shudders as she confronts her ‘demons’.
They had only moved a few metres when the unthinkable happened. The soldier opened fire.
“People were screaming and running in all directions. It was total chaos. We just wanted to get away. My heart was beating so fast,” said Makanyire.
She felt like she had been thrust into a war zone.
“I saw a woman fall and she lay unmoving on the ground. I ran faster but that is when I felt the hot pain on my shoulder. The force propelled me forward, I almost fell but I managed a few more metres on my feet,” she said.
Makanyire, who was now bleeding from the gun shot wound, collapsed into the arms of a police officer who was also at the scene.
“From that moment, I recall little. They took me to the charge office. Someone was pouring water over me. I was cold, wet and in pain. I must have passed out because I woke up in the ambulance,” she said.
Makanyire is an angry woman who feels her sanity and her daughter’ innocence were shredded that day.
“Why did they shoot me, putting my child at risk? I am just a struggling widow who ekes a living from growing vegetables and vending. I have no interest in politics and I was not part of whatever was going on,” she said before breaking down. She cried openly, shaking her head slowly.
“The doctors say I will recover but I do not think so. How will I fend for my children? Who will compensate me for all this pain? My daughter is so traumatised by the incident and I have forbidden her from visiting me here because she cries all the time.”
Makanyire’s story resonates with many others who were caught up in the melee that cost seven lives — although unofficial reports indicate over 10 people were senselessly killed in a show of unwarranted heavy-handedness.
A young man somewhere in the male ward in Parirenyatwa Hospital nursed wounds so horrific that his life would never be the same. As he huddled under the blankets, he probably wondered if the perpetrators would be brought to book.
Social media has been awash with condemnation for the acts and human rights defenders were seized with the issue, but for Makanyire and the other injured people as well as the relatives of those who lost their lives, it will be a long road to recovery. They hope for justice that may never come.