Saturday, 24 April 2021

I SURVIVED A HORROR BUS CRASH IN 1987


In April 1987, 75 people died and only three people survived a horrific bus crash in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North Province. Sikhangelweyinkosi Phiri who was only one month old, was one of the survivors.

Now 34 years old, the businesswoman said since birth, her life has been a blessed one as she has seen God’s favour through and through.

“When I was a month old, I was involved in a fatal accident involving a bus and a train. Out of 78 passengers, only three survived and were all from one family. That was my mum (Elizabeth Ndlovu), aunt (Oppa Godwe) and myself. Then my mother named me Sikhangelweyinkosi as it was only through His grace for me to be alive,” said Phiri, who was born in Bulawayo and lived in Pelandaba suburb.

She said her coming into the world was by chance as her mother had already reached the age of menopause.

“I was born into a family of five. My brothers and sisters are way older than me as my mother fell pregnant with me when she was 47. She told me that she thought that she was not going to have another child given her age.

“She said she started having strange symptoms and after some time, she visited the doctor who told her that she was pregnant. She left the doctor’s office laughing saying there was nothing like that because she was old.

“Three months later, the pregnancy started showing and she said she felt embarrassed because she was now a mother-in-law and to tell people that she was pregnant was just embarrassing,” said Phiri.

She said when she was born on 28 March 1987, her mother and father named her Catherine. A month after her birth, Phiri said her mother’s brother invited her to his rural home in Tsholotsho so that she could rest as she had given birth to her through Caesarean section.

“Before the journey, my brother, Singa Sibanda said he had dreamt us being involved in an accident and was told in the dream to warn my mother not to board the bus called Ndamina. This bus used to travel using a route that didn’t pass through our home. When she was told this, my mother said she did not believe in dreams and we travelled to Tsholotsho,” said Phiri.

At the bus rank, Phiri said her aunt who was accompanying her mum, met her long-time friend and they took the journey together seated next to each other. Her aunt was the one who was carrying her.

“I was told that we were seated on the third seat from the front and when we were in Nyamandlovu, the bus driver tried to beat the train at the rail-level crossing and the bus was crushed by the train and everybody perished except the three of us” she said.

Phiri said her mother told her that word reached Tsholotsho that everybody who was on the bus had perished.

She said when her mother regained consciousness, she looked around and saw bodies covered in blankets and concluded that she and the aunt were among the dead. “She said she was so distraught that God had given her a child at her advanced age and barely a month after the child’s birth, he took her away,” said Phiri. 

She said when her mother was pondering on the next move, she heard her aunt crying out for help. Phiri said her mother told her that when people went to rescue the auntie, they found her still holding her but her back had been burnt.

“I only had a scratch where a glass entered the side of my left eye,” said Phiri. After the accident and the miraculous escape, her parents renamed her Sikhangelweyinkosi (Protected by God).

“I’m always referred to as an angel that saved lives of my mother and aunt. Even our neighbours acknowledge that. When I was growing up, my mother would tell me about the power of God and that he always fights our battles and that is what I also believe,” said Phiri.

She said she has been prayerful all her life. “I’ve been a firm believer in God from a young age. I remember when I was learning at Manqe Primary School in Tsholotsho, there was this girl, Glennis who took the first position in the class. I was always a first student and winning school prizes, but that term, she took number one. “I remember going down on my knees praying to God to help me not to come second after her. Since that time, I was always top of the class,” said Phiri.

Following her survival in the crash, Phiri who runs a business that deals with curtains, ceilings and other fittings such as bathrooms, said she does not take anything for granted hence she celebrates every victory even when its small.

“I celebrate every achievement because I know how sleeping on an empty stomach feels or to eat isitshwala with umkhemeswane. I don’t have a lot of money, but I share what I have with the needy. I believe that God blesses someone who is humble,” said Phiri.

A mother of one, Phiri had the last part of her lobola ceremony last week with artiste, Madlela Skhobokhobo and his sidekick Sibande being part of the negotiation entourage. She said the ceremony went well according to God’s plans and grace. Chronicle

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