Joshua Malinga relives horror of White City attack

Joshua Malinga relives horror of White City attack
Published: 05 July 2018
AS the world reeled from the aftershock of an unprecedented assassination attempt on a sitting President in Zimbabwe, a video that exposed how physically challenged people are not catered for in infrastructure went viral.

Before the dust had settled in the aftermath of the June 23 white City Bomb attempt on President Mnangagwa's life, the video of a man on a wheelchair left alone on the stage while everyone else fled popped up on social media platforms.

Even as everyone was scurrying for cover fearing a second and possibly more devastating explosion, the man in the wheelchair stayed put as no one seemed concerned about helping him off the disability unfriendly raised platform.

An outpouring of empathy for the man flooded social media around the world.

Some people are still asking who the hapless man is and what became of him.

He is the former Mayor of Bulawayo and advisor to the President on National Disability, Joshua Malinga.

Once the world president of a United Nations organisation for the disabled and a champion for their rights since 1980, Malinga was stranded at a place where he has been fighting most of his life to ensure the physically challenged are adequately catered for.

The Chronicle caught up with him at his home recently and he calmly narrated his harrowing experience which he said could have traumatised for life, a lesser man.

After collecting his thoughts several times, this is what he said:

" I accepted that death had made its final knock on my doorstep. I had before this incident survived two terror attacks in aeroplanes but surviving a bomb thrown within arm's length from me was just too much.

It is just the doing of the Almighty that I was spared. The grenade missed me because it was deflected by a rope that was holding up one of the tents. God still has a purpose with my life. I watched the bloody carnage as people writhed in pain all round me. People fled, I could not move from my wheelchair, some screamed, some groaned, it took time before I recollected my thoughts and realised the intensity of what was happening and the slim chances of my survival. I am a lucky man. Death has knocked on my door thrice and I'm still alive to tell the story.

In as much as I was shocked, I was calm, composed and I remember reflecting a bit on my life through the whole fiasco.

I remember Vice President Chiwenga stopping by to greet me and shake my hand while holding his wife's arm with the other hand.

The first time I heard the loud bang that sounded more like a clap, I mistook it for an electrical fault. Little did I know that death was in the neighbourhood.

The second time the loud bang went off I knew then that it was a bomb.

I don't know what came over me but I was not overcome with fear or panic.

I stayed calm, perhaps it's being confined to a wheelchair and knowing that there isn't much you can do. My assistant was with me. Everyone else ducked.

People scurried for cover. It was a very tense and terrifying moment. My assistant had crouched behind my wheelchair when the bomb went off. My face was black with soot and dust from the explosion. It all happened very slowly and very fast at the same time. Time stood still, raced or became meaningless.

I watched helplessly as my friends whom I was sitting close to ran for dear life. I cannot blame them for leaving me behind. Sometimes it is each man for himself and God for us all. They had to run to safety and I do not blame them.

That bombing was an act of a very evil person. No normal and sane person can try to harm others in such a horrible manner.

I wonder why someone decides to come and do their shenanigans in Bulawayo. We are the city of royalty. We are the most peace loving city.

To all my friends, family and all those that care about me, I would like to let you all know that I am fine, I escaped unharmed, without even a scratch and I am in perfect health.

I never expected such a thing to happen in Zimbabwe at this time given the prevailing peace and tranquility we have been enjoying since the coming in of the new dispensation. I hope this devil will be found and exposed. Why did he have to create an atmosphere and perception that people in this region are not peaceful? God Forbid! We are the most hospitable place.

That's the nature of the game of politics. If you take away such incidents, then it ceases to be interesting. Politics is a game of survival.

The grenade might have come straight at me. My assistant, Intelligent Masuku, says he saw something flying overhead making a hissing noise before it made the first explosion which produced a lot of smoke.

The second explosion was the loudest.

I do not understand how my life was spared; I was so near yet so far. Far enough to be spared. I am very lucky. In 1983 in Singapore I survived a plane hijack where some people took over the signals and held the plane in the air for hours.

"As we were preparing to go and land in Mauritius and not Seychelles as planned, we finally got the signal but the runway was barricaded with trucks and metal objects. The plane failed to land properly and had to take off again. We ended up flying to Durban with one wing missing. Just like on June 23 at White City, we expected to die at anytime.

I am a survivor. In 2008, a Zimbabwean student attempted to hijack a plane in Cape Town at knife point and was stopped as he was charging towards the pilot in mid air. I survived. God is still with me and I guess it is not yet my time. For a moment, I felt that I was finally going to yield to death's call at White City but the Creator knows better how I survived, how the grenade struck that rope and shifted its direction from me.

Those responsible for this satanic act are trying to influence people against voting for Zanu-PF but they will be disappointed people are going all out to vote for the ruling party. Things have changed and there is faith in the new dispensation."
- chronicle
Tags: Malinga, Bomb,


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