Victoria Falls — FORMER Zimbabwe international striker Adam Ndlovu died in an accident early yesterday morning while his younger brother Peter escaped with serious injuries after a horrific car crash near the Victoria Falls International Airport.
He was 42.
The two were travelling in a BMW X5 SUV, which crashed at the 417km peg, near Lupinyu Business Centre.
The Ndlovu brothers, who had left Bulawayo on Saturday night, were on their way to the resort town to take part in a friendly soccer match pitting Highlanders Legends and the Victoria Falls Social Soccer League select team.
The match had been scheduled for yesterday afternoon at Chinotimba Stadium.
A woman identified as Nomclo Tshili (24), who was also in the same vehicle, died in the crash.
Peter, arguably the greatest Warrior to date, who led the team to the Nations Cup finals in 2004 and 2006 before returning home after a lengthy and successful career in England and South Africa, to be the assistant coach of the senior national team, was transferred from Victoria Falls hospital to Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo around 8am yesterday.
He escaped with injuries on his legs, forehead and ribs.
Peter was in a stable condition yesterday afternoon and could recognise people and also speak to them.
Family spokesman Harrison Nkomo said last night he spoke to Peter on the phone and he was in cheerful and receiving the best medical attention.
Matabeleland North provincial police spokesperson Inspector Billie Dube confirmed the accident which happened at around 1.20am on the Victoria Falls/Bulawayo highway.
"We received information of an accident that took place around 1.20am involving Peter Ndlovu of Bulawayo who was driving a silver BMW X5 registration number NUDDY23 GP from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls," he said.
"Adam Ndlovu and Nomclo Tshili were the two passengers in the vehicle."
Insp Dube said on approaching the 417km peg, the vehicle burst its front left tyre and veered off the road before uprooting trees.
"The vehicle went to the left side of the road where it hit a tree and landed on its right side. The female passenger died on the spot with no visible injuries while Adam sustained a broken left arm, head injuries and died on the way to the hospital.
"Peter sustained a cut on the right knee, left shin and forehead and was admitted at Victoria Falls District Hospital before he was transferred to a hospital in Bulawayo," Insp Dube said.
Around 4.30am and at the Victoria Falls District Hospital, a Zimpapers news crew found scores of people, including Highlanders Legends team members, gathered outside.
Adam and Peter's brother Mark was also present.
Other former Highlanders' players at the hospital were Douglas Mloyi, Bekithemba Ndlovu, Willard Khumalo, Netsai Moyo, Thabani Masawi, Nkosana Gumbo, Melusi Sibanda, Alexander Phiri, Simon Sibanda, Jerry Sibanda, Rahman Gumbo and Zifa board member Morgan Dube.
Victoria Falls Mayor, Councillor Nkosilathi Jiyane, was also present, together with other politicians who included the MP for Hwange West, Gift Mabhena.
At the scene of the accident, it could be seen that after veering off the road, the vehicle uprooted three large trees.
The three uprooted trees and branches were scattered all over the wreckage.
There were bloodstains on the doors and windows while the steering wheel was protruding through the sunroof and the engine mangled.
Rahman Gumbo, a former Zimbabwe senior national team coach, said he was at a loss for words.
"I am stunned, shocked, I am at a loss for words. I thought we would play the match today for the people of Victoria Falls," said Rahman.
"God, I just do not know, at such a tender age in coaching as he was still learning the ropes of coaching, he is taken away from us. The country has lost a good person and a good coach, I have lost a brother.
"We thank God for Peter's life because from where I stand, no one should have survived this accident."
Some villagers from Lupinyu said they heard a loud bang around 1:20am before coming to rescue the passengers.
"I am only hearing it now that Adam and his brother Peter were the people we pulled from the wreckage. At the time I thought we were just helping some strangers," said a villager.
Adam cut his teeth at Highlanders in the early 1990s before going onto play for a number of European and South African clubs.
Adam and Peter were part of the late Warriors coach, Reinhard Fabisch's Dream Team in the 1990s.
Zanu-PF national chairman, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, offered his condolences to the Ndlovu family.
Speaking from Mangaung, where he is attending the ANC elective conference, Cde Khaya Moyo said Ndlovu's death had come as a shock even to South Africa soccer loving community.
"I was shocked to learn about what befell the Ndlovu brothers and cannot believe it. I am here in Mangaung attending the ANC 53rd elective congress and learnt with compound shock of the demise of Adam Ndlovu in a tragic car accident.
"Why this tragedy befell the admired Ndlovu family and took the life of one of Zimbabwe's soccer genius is in God's hands. The football fraternity and all Zimbabwe soccer lovers no doubt remain in utter bewilderment. The nation is in shock.
"May the good Lord accord Peter, the Zimbabwe soccer jewel a speedy recovery and render the Ndlovu family strength and staying power. Everybody is shocked here in South Africa as people are trying to come to terms with the tragedy because it is difficult to believe. The Lord remains our shepherd and we will continue praying with the family," said Cde Khaya Moyo.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in his message said: "I am deeply saddened at the passing on of soccer legend, Adam Ndlovu, who was taken away from us in the horror crash that left his young brother, Peter, in hospital.
"I wish Peter a speedy recovery. Adam and Peter were part of our national football Dream Team in the 1990s and have continued to impart their skills to other young Zimbabwean footballers. They have made a significant contribution to our culture in Zimbabwe.
"My prayers are with the Ndlovu family, the football fraternity and the nation at this sad loss. On behalf of my Office, my family and on my own behalf, I join with so many others who knew Adam, in offering our deepest sympathy on his passing."
Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture, Senator David Coltart, said: "My prayers are with you Peter, be strong."
Messages also poured in from Peter's former base, England where he was a favourite among Coventry fans during the 90s scoring 39 goals in 176 matches before leaving for Birmingham. He had a short loan spell at Huddersfield before joining Sheffield United.
Coventry wrote on Twitter: 'All our thoughts and wishes go out to former Sky Blue Peter Ndlovu and his family. Keep strong Nuddy.'
A tweet from the Blades read: 'Our thoughts are with former player Peter Ndlovu, who has been critically injured in a car accident in his native Zimbabwe.'
Birmingham's own statement read: 'The thoughts of everyone associated with Birmingham City Football Club are with Peter Ndlovu and his family following news of a serious car crash in Zimbabwe. Peter was a very popular player during his time at St Andrew's and we hope he pulls through this difficult time.'
Former Birmingham co-owner David Gold tweeted: 'Peter Ndlovu is one of the nicest footballers I ever met. We are all thinking of you Peter, get well soon.'
Former Coventry team-mate Darren Huckerby wrote: 'Terrible news about Peter Ndlovu and his brother, hope he pulls through.'