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How 2 Boys Heroically Saved 185 Students During Kutama College Fire

Zimbabweans have heaped praise on two teenagers, Takudzwa Machuwe and Kapfumvute Mwamba, who showed courage by saving 185 fellow learners from a fire at Kutama College yesterday.

Unlikely heroes

When a fire broke out at the iconic school around 2 am Monday, the two Form 3 pupils immediately gathered courage, calmed the situation, and determined what was the high priority issues to deal with in the heat of the moment.

When they were awakened by skirmishes in the Form 2 hostels after the fire broke out in the entertainment room, Machuwe said their initial reaction was to douse the fire but they were overwhelmed.

They dispatched a colleague to the headmaster’s quarters while remaining behind to control and calm the desperate situation.

“I was awakened by some of the Form 2s saying there was a fire in the television room,” Takudzwa recalled in an interview with the Herald. “We tried to put out the fire, but failed. We then sent one of us the captains to the headmaster’s house.”

Kapfumvute said there was panic and confusion, with the youngsters trying to save their laptops and other personal valuables. But what was important was lives as the personal belongings were replaceable, Kapfumvute reckoned.“We told them to value their lives which are more important than their gadgets and personal belongings, which can be replaced,” Kapfumvute chipped in, indicating they had to convince the juniors to forget about collecting their personal property.

Quick-thinking, bravery

The act of bravery and quick thinking by the two boys has been praised as probably the only reason the situation did not lead to a loss of lives, as close to 200 learners were at risk of being trapped and killed in their hostels.

“Heroic. They deserve the bravery awards at national level to serve as an inspiration to other young people. Good show,” said Saviour Kasukuwere, a former Cabinet Minister.

Other Zimbabweans also praised the two teens saying they needed proper recognition by the State for exhibiting strong leadership and crisis management skills, as well as the heart to assist others.

However, some Zimbabweans are infuriated at what role the school’s boarding master played amid indications the learners basically rescued themselves.

“The boarding master’s quarters are situated very close to the hostels for such emergencies like this fire incident, so what role did he play? Was he even at the school on the fateful night?” asked a Zimbabwean on social media.

Unanswered questions

Some also questioned the safety of students at boarding schools countrywide if they were to face a similar incident, considering that Kutama College is among the most resourced public schools in the country.

A fire tender that was called from Norton, some 45km away, arrived at the school too late to save the situation.

Meanwhile, the affected students have been given a two-week recuperation break from school while investigations continue.

The damage caused to the school’s hostels is yet to be quantified. However, businessman and Zvimba South legislator Philip Chiyangwa pledged cement and other hardware materials to ensure the damage was repaired in the shortest possible time.

Chiyangwa was among the top-ranking politicians and Government officials who landed at the highly sentimental school just hours after the fire incident. Others include Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Mashonaland West provincial Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka.

Built in 1914 as St Francis Xavier’s Kutama College, the school boasts an impressive list of alumni including former President Robert Mugabe.

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Marian Shamhu

Marian Shava is a full-time journalist and social media enthusiast
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