|Vincent lies in her hospital bed.|
|The nursing staff are giving the little boy special attention.|
SOS for little Vincent
· Boy remains alone in hospital after mother dies in hit-and-run
ON THE night of September 2, a little boy called Vincent was crossing Kafue Road with his mother, who was carrying a baby on her back when, in a flash, screeching of tyres and a bang, his life was changed forever.The family was hit by a speeding vehicle on the freeway.
Vincent’s mother and his younger sister called Charity died on the spot, but the 4-year-old boy survived the impact.
The driver of the speeding vehicle did not stop to check on the victims, and the only witness to the fatal incident was a man and woman traveling in a vehicle a few metres behind.
In a statement, police timed the accident at 20:39 hours, and named the victims as Albina Mulenga, 35, and her four-month-old baby who died instantly, while Vincent was rushed to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) unconscious.
The little boy had suffered a broken leg and minor bruises on his face.
That night, police had deposited three bodies in the morgue at UTH, including that of a unidentified man.
This led staff at the hospital to think the male body belonged Albina’s husband.
But Police say there was already a body of a man, another accident victim picked elsewhere, in the back of the pick-up when they arrived at the scene to pick up the bodies of Albina and her baby.
Days after the accident, the hit-and-run driver reported himself to the police and was charged.
He is Francis Nkhuwa, a 50-year-old government employee who was driving a Toyota Ipsum registration number ALF 5514 the night of the hit-and-run.
He now faces two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, failing to report an accident, and failing to render assistance to the injured.
He is expected to appear in court soon.
But the case has now become a puzzle for both UTH staff and the police.
Since the incident happened, little Vincent has been lying in hospital alone as no-one has come to claim a missing child, mother or baby.
Apart from the white-robed nurses who attend to him and give him special attention, the only other companion for Vincent is a fluffy Teddy bear.
He has named the bear as Charity, after his dead little sister, and sometimes he talks to the Teddy as though it were really his baby sister.
When I ready my camera to take a picture of Vincent, he clutches the Teddy bear close to his chest, calling it by name.
But the scene of a boy holding a bear named after his dead sister is heart-rending for the nurse taking care of him, she scurries away to the bathroom, covering her teary eyes with her hand.
There is a certain deep sense of sympathy, and perhaps empathy, too, for little Vincent from the nurses in the ward.
And despite his predicament, Vincent is usually bright-eyed and chatty, except when he is in pain.
And sometimes he cries for his mother, unaware of the fate she suffered that night.
But he too is now a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that the nurses and police are trying to piece together.
A lot of questions surround the boy lying in the hospital ward, and his dead mother and sister still lying in the hospital mortuary.
Where was the woman and her children coming from, and where were they going? Where are the relatives or even neighbours?
Inside the woman’s handbag, police had found her mobile phone, which was damaged by the impact, as well as an under-five clinic card for baby Charity, a national identity card belonging to a young woman called Macliven Chitalo.
The under-five clinic card showed that Albina lived in Makeni Kankole.
Also found in the bag was Albina’s electronic anti-retroviral card.
When the card was run through a computer at UTH, it generated more information about the woman, including the phone number for her husband named Robam Mwansa.
But the number is no longer in use.
And when the nurses tried to call the numbers on the dead woman’s phone they drew a blank. They could not get through to the numbers, while some people called denied knowing Albina.
Only one contact in her phone yielded a response.
The number belonged to a woman – a social worker - working as a councillor for a local clinic where Albina used to access her anti-retroviral drugs.
The two met early this year and became acquainted, and would usually talk about many things.
The councillor describes a cheery light-complexioned woman.
“She looked decent,” she says.
The councillor believes Albina had had a broken marriage and was living alone with her children and probably another relative.
She also suspects Albina had recently relocated to Lusaka from another town and worked as a maid for an Asian family in Kamwala or Madras.
Following the accident, the councillor took things personal and embarked on her own search for the little boy’s relatives around the Ngwenya dam.
She had Vincent’s picture on her phone which she showed to anyone she found near the dam.
But her search never yielded any results.
Vincent mentions two places in his conversations – Ngwenya dam in Misisi township and a school called Legacy Academy.
This made hospital staff to suspect the little boy attended the academy, but when contacted, the school authorities said they did not have any boy by that name in their database.
If no relatives come forth to claim him, he will be placed in an orphanage.
After hitting a dead end on phone leads, police spokesperson Esther Katongo says police are now waiting for the child to get better so he can help in tracing his home or relatives.
ALBINA and her baby were Monday put to rest at a small ceremony at the Old Leopards Hill cemetery.
Her funeral and that of her four-month-old baby called Charity, was arranged by the social welfare department at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and other well-wishers because no-one claimed their bodies, five weeks after the accident on Kafue Road.
Mother and daughter were laid side-by-side.
About 10 nurses from UTH, including those taking care of Vincent attended the funeral and laid wreaths at the boy’s grave.
There was no life history and no tributes at her grave, but the nurses sung spiritual songs and a pastor delivered a sermon.
“It was an honourable funeral,” said Sylvia Chibotu, who is nurse-in-charge in the ward where Vincent is admitted.
Lusaka District commissioner Davies Mulenga, who represented Government at the funeral, emphasised the spirit of Ubuntu (good neighbourliness).
He said there is need for neighbours to look out for each other and be concerned for one another.
At the end of the ceremony, the two graves were decked by flowers laid by total strangers.
UTH public relations manager Natalie Mwashikolo said there are now plans to open Vincent an account where people can deposit money to help him.
She said some people have formed Whatsapp groups to help the little boy.
But there is no closure yet for little Vincent as police and hospital staff are still trying to locate his relatives.
And the hit-and-run driver is yet to appear in court.