Trinity Saungweme and Colleen Kamonere were more than friends despite the chasm between their ages; they were sisters linked through the stars on their fathers’ births 31 years ago in a connection that also brought their mothers together as bosom buddies.
It is this link that the Grim Reaper utilised when he hobbled on in his dark cloaks, hooded robe and scythe, to pay their star-crossed fathers an unwelcome visit that gloomy late Wednesday afternoon at the Saungwemes’ rented residence in Unit A, Chitungwiza.
To Christians, Trinity symbolises three persons of the Godhead: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Ironically, the tragedy that left the Chitungwiza community, particularly those in Unit A, engulfed in a blanket of both horror and grief, is linked to three strings of a trinity of fathers, mothers and their children.
The nine-year-old Trinity, a Grade Four pupil at Dzidzai Primary School in the dormitory town, was her parents’ firstborn, and a sibling to Thulani (7), and Tamia (3). The 18-month-old Colleen was an only child.
On the fateful day, Colleen’s mother, Agnes Chinyama paid her friend, Linnet Mukwada (28), who is Trinity’s mother, a visit as they often do. And as they do often as well, their husbands, Gumisai Kamonere and Challenge Saungweme, both 31, were whiling away time at their usual rendezvous about 300 metres to the east of the locale.
Trinity’s father, a soldier, had tgiven his army fatigues a break since he was on a fives-day official leave, which he intended to utilise with his family and friends.
They would usually meet at Kamonere’s workstation; a car park that doubles up as a car wash during the day, and an overnight carpark.
As his friend washed cars, so did Trinity’s father hold the barbering tongs in his spare time, in-between peals of laughter. Such was their routine for 12 moons, until the Grim Reaper challenged them, as is Trinity’s father’s name: Challenge, on the third day of his leave, to a brawl in which the living always lose.
When he came to “reap” their souls, Trinity and Colleen were dutifully attending to their usual errand; selling freezits and ice lollies to their peers amid playing house and hopscotch. As Saungweme revealed, the scorching sun kept the three children, Trinity, Colleen, Thulani and Tamia indoors for the better part of the day.
As the sun doddered down the horizon, so also did the heat ebb to allow them, along with their mothers space outside the precast wall, close to which was a small table laden with a cooler box housing their wares.
Trinity would constantly keep a hawk’s eye on her 18-month-old ‘sister’ and friend, and restrain her from wandering out of bounds into the busy street an arm’s length away.
“The children were very close. I can say they were like sisters. On the day of the tragic incident their mothers were seated inside the yard with their backs to the precast wall.
“Trinity and Colleen were outside, they were selling freezits and ice lollies,” the grief-stricken Saungweme said.
Just about that time a water delivery truck descended on the hood with supplies for the Saungwemes’ neighbour, Taipa Ganda (31). The truck would make three deliveries, momentarily bringing the children’s activities to a halt.
At the third visit the 5 000-litre water tank’s bowels were swollen, so was the children’s joy restored.
By then Trinity, Thulani, Collen and Tamia were joined by another neighbourhood child.
About 45 minutes later, the other child’s mother came to fetch him, and the three-year-old Tamia tottered away into the yard to where her mother and Colleen’s mother were.
With fate’s hand unwaveringly resolute in its determination of humanity’s destiny, the ill-fated water tank burdened the galvanised steel stand on which it precariously perched. One of the stand’s unsecured legs sagged under the 5 000-litre weight, made as if to hold on, the way a woman balancing a clay pot on her cushionless head does when she suddenly steps on an uneven slope unawares, then it gave in, leaving a deluge of death, blood, pain and sorrow.
The tank caught Trinity seated with her back to the small gate close to their south-eastern neighbour’s, her legs spread out in front of her, Colleen on her side and her mother’s cooler box in front of her. As is his custom, the Grim Reaper gave the two star-crossed sisters no chance to fight back in his ‘harvest’ of souls.
Thulani, who is in Grade Two at the same school with his sister, fractured his right leg as the falling deluge of water threw him a few paces from where he was playing.
Although he was initially hospitalised at Chitungwiza Central Hospital, he is now out of danger save for a plastered leg, and is recuperating at home.
The bang did not only stop Trinity and Colleen’s hearts, but it ripped out their mothers’ as well, since they bore witness to the unwelcome, but inevitable visit that would remain etched in their bosoms.
“What is more painful is the way Trinity and Colleen died, not death itself or the loss we have to endure,” said Trinity’s aunt, Gay Chirawu (37), (his father’s elder sister) in tears.
“She died in a sitting position, as the tank hit her on the head.
“She had no scratches, though. She only bled from the nose. They carried her in that position to the hospital where she and Colleen were pronounced dead, although we could tell they had probably died on the spot,” she added.
Colleen’s father, Kamonere, was at a loss for words at the death of their only child. The couple had been married since 2018. When his friend, Saungweme was called back home following the incident, he remained behind.
Little did he know that death’ snuffed out their children’s life, when he followed him home to find out what had transpired.
Joined through their fathers’ friendship, bonded and nurtured by their mothers’ attachment, the two sisters; a separate but connected string of a trinity of love, could not be detached even in death. They are only separated now in burial.
Trinity’s final destination is Masasi Village in Chief Marange’s domain of Bocha where she will be buried today.
Colleen’s final resting place is Nyakwangwa Village in Chief Nyamukoho’s area of Mutoko District where she will be buried today, thus, being forever joined with her sister from another mother, through the soil.