Tales of “talking” buses are not new in Zimbabwe, with the popular story being of one that plied the Harare-Murambinda Highway in the early 1990s that would reportedly order the driver to rest if it feels he was tiring.
The storytellers would interpret that the bus may have been acquired after its owner had killed someone, and performed some rituals to get riches.
As revenge, the spirit of the slain person would cause the bus to “talk”, and beg to be “rested” after a long trip.
Many believe the stories.
Today, Zimbabweans are being treated to yet another story of a “talking bus” that has been parked by the roadside along Harare-Nyamapanda Highway for over three years.
Social media has been awash with pictures of this bus, with citizens claiming that besides talking, it mysteriously moved from its original position.
The luxurious bus has been grounded near Magaya bus stop between Murewa and Mutoko.
It is not about its colour, white, often associated with goodness and purity. But it is how the bus has survived vandalism and theft from both locals and scrap metal scavengers from Harare or the nearby Murewa and Mutoko towns. As of yesterday, it was still intact.
NewsDay Weekender visited the scene and spoke to villagers who said it is a mystery that the bus has survived vandals, scrap metal scavengers and even the vagaries of weather.
Mary Mudziwepasi (41), from Dzotizei village, whose home is a few metres away from the abandoned bus, has seen it all.
She said the bus, a Volvo, got grounded in 2019.
“The bus was from South Africa heading to Malawi before developing a fault here. Its owner is in Malawi. It was during the COVID-19 era and the passengers had a torrid time to reach their destination due to restrictions which did not allow movement of public vehicles,” she recalled.
Mudziwepasi said it took almost two weeks for all the passengers to leave the scene.
“They were ferried by trucks to Malawi and it took close to two weeks for all of the passengers to leave this place. They made sure that female passengers went first, while men remained behind. They even left a trailer loaded with goods, but it was later towed away to Malawi after all the passengers had left,” she said.
For almost two months, the bus driver remained, guarding the bus before eventually leaving due to exhaustion and “mischief”.
According to villagers, the bus and its driver attracted young girls and married women such that the issue was reported to local traditional leader, Chief Mangwende.
“The driver was here for close to two months. He was sleeping in the boot. Since it was during the COVID-19 era, young girls were now flocking to this place.
“Chief Mangwende got hold of the news, and we were made to pay around $20 per homestead so that the money is used to tow away the bus from this area,” recalled Mudziwepasi.
The bus driver, well versed in both local and Malawian languages, then left the mysterious bus, facing eastwards.
Efforts to get a comment from Chief Mangwende were fruitless as his mobile phone was not being answered.
The police were also notified of the bus and, according to villagers, they have no financial capacity to tow it away despite being dangerously parked and posing a danger to other motorists.
Mudziwepasi said the bus remains intact.
“We have heard in the social media that the bus talks, that’s not it. What I know is that you cannot steal it or anything from it. It is still intact. If it was Zupco or other buses, it could have been stripped to the shell. After breaking down, we were told that they took the gearbox to Malawi,” she said.
Recently, some people tried to tow away the bus, but failed.
Today, the bus is now facing west, but still at the same position.
“I saw it myself; some people came with a towing truck. They tried towing it towards Mutoko since they wanted enough space for turning. As they reached the spot, their tow-away truck broke down. The driver of the truck also said something mysterious was happening to him. He dumped it,” said Mudziwepasi.
Mudziwepasi said a mechanic from Mozambique came after the “attempted” theft and removed some tyres.
“As if the bus owner saw that someone attempted to tow the bus, a mechanic from Mozambique came and removed the tyres. That was it,” she said.
Mashonaland East provincial police spokesperson Inspector Simon Chazovachiyi said police were aware of the abandoned bus.
“Currently ,we only know that the bus is registered in another country, but we do not know the owner. We are also not aware of the mystery surrounding the bus as claimed in social media reports,” Chazovachiyi said.
“We are encouraging the community where that bus is to approach the police and give us their reports on any crimes that can be perpetrated on or in relation to the bus.”
Despite exposure to harsh weather conditions for five years, the bus has only lost its windscreen while the white paint is losing some of its lustre.
There are some loose wires here and there, but its interior is still intact.
The fenders have been damaged by those who tried to tow it. The curtains on the windows are still intact with no damage whatsoever.
Transporters said it is expensive to tow away a bus to Malawi, but said it was mind boggling that the owner had abandoned the vehicle, and not even bothered to strip it for essential parts.Today, the bus remains safe by the roadside without any security guard in sight.