Story by Michelle Makunike / Pictures by Ronald Chuma
Gweru mayor Josiah Makombe has reprimanded some council workers who accused the acting town clerk, Mr Vakayi Chikwekwe for being responsible for the death of three council employees who died in a car accident on Friday, saying what the council boss did was above board.
The trio brothers Hosiah and Lewis Rufasha and Sydney Mbewe who were municipal police officers under the clamping department died on the spot when a vehicle they were travelling in burst its right front tyre, veered off the road, overturned and hit some trees.
The trio had been sent by council to repossess a Toyota D4D Double Cab vehicle that was in the possession of former director of engineering services Engineer Robson Manatsa in Harare.
Eng Manatsa resigned in July and allegedly went with the vehicle he was using as a condition of service.
Some rowdy council employees are reportedly to have insulted and threatened to beat up the Acting Town Clerk when he visited the homes of the deceased employees, for sending the trio to recover the vehicle from engineer Manatsa instead of engaging the Messenger of Court to do the work.
According to eye witnesses, when the acting Town Clerk Vakayi Chikwekwe arrived at Sydney Mbewe’s home to pass his condolences, council workers present at the funeral started singing “Ndimi makauraya, hazvina mhosva”, while some were shouting insults at the council boss.
He is said to have left the funeral in a huff a few minutes after the incident.
“I have heard of the talk that the accident could have been avoided if the acting TC could have engaged the messenger of court. Accidents do happen and for people especially council workers to then accuse the Town Clerk is unfair.
He did what was best for the city to send the trio to recover the vehicle and council is not in dispute with Eng Manatsa to have warranted the engagement of messenger of court or lawyers.
The Mayor emphasized that the town clerk has gone out of his way to facilitate the smooth running of the funerals and that has never happened before.
“We have set a presidency for when an employee dies in office, everyone in council comes and chips in similar to what we did to these three employees,” said Makombe.
Hundreds of people from different backgrounds including the vendors and the youths came to bid farewell to Sydney Mbewe whom they described as a sociable and easy to like person.
In an interview during the burial at Mutasa cemetery, Clr Makombe said, “We have lost a dedicated employee who was recently given an assignment that was important to the city and the department, where we were trying to put some plugs because of some leakages in terms of revenues.
“We were starting to see results of it were eight of our employees were nabbed by the same people who we assigned the task. What we have been trying to achieve has been now been temporarily stopped as a result of our loss.
“I was in Victoria Falls and the town clerk took it upon himself to make decisions that are painful of buying groceries, to provide food to all the funerals and to hire buses. These decisions lie on the council and needs council to rectify that. Am sure he was hurt, but it is very unfortunate that our employees sometimes take things in their own hands for some reasons, he added
“The deceased have left children and wives to be looked after and we look upon to that same person (Chikwekwe) to do something about the family, probably to employ their wives.
“The same acting town clerk who is being insulted has to make recommendations to the council and people are now coming up with all sorts of issues whereby the man can even turn around and say there is no policy to do that.
“We need to be realistic and human enough to say this has happened and it’s a funeral people die” Makombe said