MYSTERY surrounds the death of a Chipinge man who died last week when his vehicle plunged into a collapsed section of the Skyline-Chimanimani Road after it emerged that he had run over a 3m long python near the same spot two weeks prior to the accident.

Silas Mandiri died in the early hours of last Saturday morning on his way to Chimanimani on business.

He was buried at his rural home in Musarakufa Village, Mutoko on Sunday.

According to a source who preferred anonymity, Mandiri, who used to ply the Chipinge-Chimanimani route regularly had run over a three-metre long python near the same spot he met his death.

“Mandiri used to ply the Chipinge and Chimanimani route supplying beverages to business centres at Peacock, Machongwe and others. He was well known here. Barely two weeks ago, he ran over and killed a very big snake while he was on one of his trips. The snake died on the spot and we saw it. The serpent was taken to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks,” said the source.

In a telephone interview, Mandiri’s wife, Cynthia Mandiri, confirmed that her husband ran over the snake, but said the family had not placed much significance on the incident.

“Two weeks ago my husband told me about running over a snake, but we did not take the issue seriously. He didn’t think it was anything sinister and neither did I. We just thought it was one of those incidents that can happen to anyone driving along a road in the countryside.

“The family is not really trying to connect that incident to his death. We are focused on grieving our beloved one,” she said.

Cynthia said her husband was a caring and loving father and his cruel death had shattered her life.

Mandiri left behind two children, a daughter, Besclin (13) and a son, Bistin (3).

The late motorist

The snake

He met his untimely demise when a section of the newly repaired Skyline-Chimanimani Road gave in to the pressure of debris blocking a culvert and collapsed.

He plunged into the collapsed section.

Cynthia said she had received a phone call from the police telling her to rush to Chimanimani because her husband had been involved in an accident.

As she and other relatives were preparing to leave, another phone call came through informing them of Mandiri’s death.

“I thought the reality would sink in once I saw his body, but I am still in denial. I am still to come to terms with my husband’s death. He was too young to leave this earth. I still think I will see him walking through the door and telling me that all this was a nightmare. He left in the morning to go to work and never came back,” said Cynthia.

However, traditional healers said there could be more to the accident.

Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association (Zinatha) president, George Kandiero, said the late Mandiri should have consulted elders after running over and killing the python, a move which might have saved his life.

“Pythons are endangered species and according to our tradition, the running over and killing of the sacred serpent could have had a sinister meaning. All he had to do was to consult a traditional healer to find out if there was something behind the accident. He could have saved his life if he had done that,” he said.

He said people are no longer respecting cultural practices that have a big impact on their lives.

“Sometimes we rush to think that our churches and prayers are all we need in such situations, but that is not always the case. Supernatural events happen and we need to respect that aspect of our culture,” said Mr Kandiero.

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