WADZANAI Sibanda Butau of Kadoma was about to travel for Christmas on Friday when she received a call from her husband Sirizani that he was injured while rescuing passengers in Mutare.
Butau was not involved in the accident himself, but immediately rushed to assist eight people out of the Beta bus that caught fire after colliding with a fuel tanker.
Despite facing imminent danger, Butau chose to risk his life to save his fellow countrymen. He even had tried to rescue his colleague, the tanker driver, but the tanker exploded and Butau survived by a whisker.
Sirizani, a truck driver, was travelling from Beira in Mozambique through Zimbabwe on his way to Zambia, but the third-degree burns he suffered meant he had to be admitted to hospital in Mutare as he was in pain.
When her husband called her, Wadzanai, a mother of three, said he told her to suspend her Christmas travel plans as he had witnessed a horrific accident.
With relatives by her side, Wadzanai took off for Mutare the next day, 25 December, to see her husband who was now among the 66 people hospitalised that fateful Friday night.
“My husband is a truck driver. On this day he was travelling from Beira to Zambia. When he called I intended to travel that night, but he dissuaded me from doing so,” said Mrs Butau.
“I travelled the following day with some relatives to Mutare where by then he had been admitted in hospital.
“We requested the medical doctors to discharge him so that he will be treated in Kadoma where we reside because his continued stay in Mutare would have taken a toll on us in terms of accommodation and other related costs.
“At the moment we are in Kadoma at a private hospital where he is being treated. He is recovering well,” she added.
But it is her husband’s heroic act that has attracted the attention of not just Zimbabweans, but many people across much of Africa. Media in Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and many other countries has been awash with photos of Sirizani Butau
Wadzanai Butau said she never expected that her husband would overnight be touted as a super-hero.
“It’s quite humbling. I wish I could be able to do the same to others in need,” she said.
Pictures of a scalded truck Butau in hospital almost broke the internet over the weekend as they inundated various social media platform.
On Sunday, President Mnangagwa hailed Butau for heroically saving lives, saying the Government will honour him for the sacrifice.
“Let me take this opportunity to appreciate Sirizani Butau who saved people from the Mutare accident. As Government we will honour him for his selfless sacrifice,” said the President.
Speaking from his hospital bed in Kadoma, Butau said he was humbled by the public’s overwhelming response.
“I am humbled by the response. It is something that I never expected. My preoccupation on the day was to help and unfortunately got injured in the process, but am doing well,” said the hero.
Five people died in the accident while 60 were sent to Victoria Chitepo Hospital for treatment after sustaining injuries.
On Saturday, his EcoCash wallet reached the set limit and there were pleas for the monetary authorities to waiver the restriction as many Zimbabweans across the world flooded the money transfer platform sending Butau some money.
Many have called on the government to consider giving Butau a diplomatic passport, and meeting all his medical expenses.
One of the latest donors is a Twitter personality known only as @thegiverzim, who has donated $250 000 to Butau. Only last week, @thegiverzim also handed over groceries worth $200 000 to children’s homes across Harare for the Christmas holidays.
“If it encourages others to consider putting a hand and helping this hero out, who now because of his injuries might be unable to provide for his family, you can share my donation with the public, it is your call,” @thegiverzim said.
Meanwhile, Butau’s brother Trevor says that the Kadoma-raised Sirizani was overwhelmed by the love Zimbabweans were showering him with.
“At the moment he is unable to talk because he is being attended to by doctors, what we can say is he is overwhelmed by the kindness and love from across Zimbabwe, he never sought to be a hero and he does not feel like one,” said Trevor.
Images released yesterday showed a badly burnt Sirizani lying on a hospital bed. He is among the 25 people who are still admitted for the injuries sustained in the horror crash.
All in all, 66 people got injured while four have died. The other 41 have since been treated and discharged, police announced in a statement issued Sunday.
- via Herald/HourlyHits/Wadzanai Butau