Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
THE driver of a vehicle that was swept away by a flooded Gweru River has been described as a prayer warrior who ended work meetings at Gweru City Council with prayer.
His pastor described him as “a man who worked for God”.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the Chiwawa residence in the leafy Habern Park suburb in Gweru where family members, close friends and relatives gathered to pay last respects.
Tinashe Chiwawa’s (49) body lay in state as eulogies came from workmates, churchmates and family members all describing him as humble, hardworking and prayerful.
Chiwawa together with his uncle, Shepherd Dzinoreva, died when their vehicle an Isuzu twin cab was swept away when they attempted to cross a flooded Gweru River on Sunday morning.
Talent Moyo, who was travelling with them, is still missing.
Three other female passengers are also believed to have died in the incident.
Chiwawa, whose body was found after two days, worked for Gweru City Council’s department of engineering as a draftsman.
He was buried at Destiny Private Memorial Park on Wednesday, while his uncle Dzinoreva was buried in Kadoma yesterday.
Most people spoke highly of Chiwawa, who was described as a devout Christian who worked hard both for his family and in his church.
But it was the way of his untimely passing that evoked emotions during the burial.
At the time of his death, Chiwawa was coming from Nkululeko where he had mining interests.
Apparently, Chiwawa had left home on Friday and was shuttling from Shurugwi where he also had mining interests and Nkululeko.
One of the last people to spend time with Chiwawa, Mr Lovemore Manomano, who is also his churchmate and worked at one of his mines, said he had crossed the river twice during that weekend.
“He had crossed the same river twice on Friday when he was coming from Shurugwi. When he discovered that we needed a compressor in Nkululeko, he went back to Shurugwi on Saturday to pick up the compressor. On his way back, that is when disaster struck,” said Manomano.
He said he could have travelled together with Chiwawa and Dzinoreva but ended up not doing so since he wanted to visit his family after a long time.
One of his workmates, Innocent Muchandiona said as he helped in the rescue operation, little did he know that it was Chiwawa, his workmate, who had drowned.
“When I heard there was a vehicle that had been swept away, it never crossed my mind that it was Tinashe. That Sunday, we spent the better part of the day working on the scene but there was nothing much we could do and we had to wait for the water to subside.
I never knew it was Tinashe that we were searching for. The following day upon return, that is when I saw his car and that is when I realised it was him,” said Mr Muchandiwona fighting back tears.
Chiwawa’s work supervisor Gweru’s assistant director of engineering (Division of Town Planning), Mr Tapiwa Marerwa described him as a hard worker whose shoes will be hard to fill.
“We knew him as a hard working man who was easy going and never accepted defeat. Everything was so simple for him as he was a prayerful person. At times he would hold meetings in his office and maybe solve issues, and after that he would close with a prayer, a rarity at many workplaces. This gap left by Chiwawa will not be easy to fill,” said Mr Marerwa.
He said Chiwawa could easily juggle between his work at council and his personal business with ease.
Representing his church, Apostolic Faith Church, Reverend Kenny Magune said: “He worked hard in the field of God, so much that he was in a number of committees where he worked for God tirelessly. Surely the gap left behind by our fellow brother will not be easy to fill.”
Family spokesperson, Mr Mhlupeki Zekenya Chiwawa, said the news of his death came as a shock to them and they were still to come to terms with the happening.
“Truly, we are yet to digest what befell us as a family. We are still in shock that this is really happening. Tinashe was a hard worker who was ready to assist anyone. We have lost a father figure, a prayer warrior and a brother all in one.
It is never easy to accept what has happened. Let alone the way he died, we could not believe it as we were only seeing it on the news,” he said.
Chiwawa is survived by wife Sibongile and seven children, five girls and two boys.