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Zim woman who lost her son and brother in law in Boksburg gas tanker disaster,still suffering more losses

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Mombeshora lost her brother-in-law, Thomas Vushendibaba, 55, and his son Nathaniel, 19, in the disaster.

Vushendibaba was married to Mombeshora’s older sister, Audrey.

Mombeshora’s house is just 100 metres from the flyover bridge where a tanker carrying 60 000 litres of liquefied petroleum gas was stuck before bursting into a fatal ball of fire, claiming 35 lives by yesterday.

A number of injured are still in hospital in critical condition, while two females are still missing.

“On the day of the blast, I was woken up by a heavy bubbling sound at around 6.15am.

“At first, I thought a water pipe had burst and went outside to check. I then realised the sound was coming from outside the yard and then saw the truck stuck under the bridge,” said Mombeshora in an interview with H-Metro at the scene of the disaster.

“My sister Audrey, who lives a street away also came out with her family to see what was happening. She also came to check if I was safe with the kids.

“We didn’t know what it was and more and more people were curious. I went back into the house and took all the kids to my sister’s house.

“The first blast happened at exactly 6.49am, and by then the fire brigade was already on the scene fighting to douse the fire. It kind of died down a bit and then we moved further away.”

She said more and more people became curious and went closer to take pictures and videos.

“I could feel the heat from a distance and asked my sister’s son to handover my three-month old baby.

“In a split second, the second blast went off at 7.23am. We were saved by a wall as we were walking back home with my sister and her daughter Chiedza,” said Mombeshora.

BEFORE TRAGEDY STRUCK, the VUSHENDIBABA family

Chiedza suffered severe burns on her back and was rushed into a cold shower.

She is still in hospital with burns. Audrey suffered burns on her legs, and was treated and discharged.

Mombeshora said Vushendibaba was sliced into two by flying debris and died on the scene while Nathaniel suffered third degree burns all over his body and died on the way to hospital.

Vushendibaba was a qualified diesel plant fitter, while his son Nathaniel had just completed his second-year studies in Bachelor of Education at the University of Johannesburg.

They were buried at Elsburg Cemetery in Boksburg on New Year’s Eve.

“The sound of the second blast was so loud that houses shook. A ball of fire engulfed the whole area and people were screaming for help.

“People were strewn all over the road and most were asking for water to drink.

“My gazebo at home caught fire and with the help of my tenants we connected a hosepipe to try and put out the fire, but it was just too strong. The cries of the burnt were heart wrenching, some lost their limbs,” said Mombeshora.

She said paramedics dissuaded them from offering any drinking water to the victims.

Across the bridge at OR Tambo Memorial Hospital, 11 nurses who had just arrived for work were burnt to death in the car park.

Mombeshora’s house now resembles a building in a war zone.

Part of the ceiling is dangling and can fall off at any time. The door frames are loose and windows cracked.

Her metal gate was blown off by the blast and the concrete wall around her yard is cracked.

SANDRA Sesurai Mombeshora

The house walls are black with soot and need a new coat of paint.

Some tiles cracked resulting in rain water seeping into the house.

As if that isn’t terrible enough, thieves stole some of her property, which include gas tanks she was now using for cooking.

She is pleading for assistance to repair her property and get her life back on track.

“At the moment I don’t feel safe with the kids. Thieves are moving in and out as there is no gate and I am scared they may just walk into the house as some of the doors can’t lock,” she said.

H-Metro also established that another Zimbabwean named Kudakwashe Chanakira also perished in the blaze.

Mombeshora’s next door neighbours lost a son, daughter-in-law and her sister.

People continue to stream to the accident scene to lay flowers in remembrance of those that perished.

However, for Mombeshora, it is a constant reminder of the tragedy that robbed her of her brother-in-law and nephew, and left her virtually homeless

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