SURVIVORS of the Mutare road traffic accident that claimed five lives on Christmas eve are still in shock but grateful they are alive, but insist that the bus driver was reckless moments before the fatal crash.
The new revelations contrast a police statement issued by ZRP national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi which said the driver was trying to avoid a drunk person when he crashed the bus with over 60 passengers on board.
The accident occurred 20km outside Mutare along the Harare highway when a Beta bus collided head on with a fuel tanker that then burst into flames.
It was a tragic Christmas Eve that survivors of the Mutare road accident and families of the bereaved would wish to quickly forget.
However, that will not be so as they have physical and psychological scars that they will carry for a life time.
“I do not know what happened. I was just told that I was involved in an accident,” a survivor said.
Another said: “The bus driver was speeding and encroached on the other lane, but failed to get back to his lane, resulting in the accident.”
“I just saw the bus encroaching on the other lane colliding with the truck,” narrated another.
“The bus swerved three times after trying to avoiding a drunk guy. The bus was first to be in flames.We don’t know the number of the people who died trapped in the bus,” said another survivor.
A truck driver, Sirizani Butau was one of the heroes of the day as he got severely injured while on a rescue mission.
“I am truck driver I was injured while trying to rescue my fellow truck driver. I tried to rescue my friend as he was still alive when I arrived at the accident scene,” he said.
The death toll has risen to five after two people succumbed to injuries at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital, while the remains of three people were recovered at the accident scene Friday night.
In a statement on Christmas Day, Assistant Commissioner Senior Staff Officer (Press, Public and Int. Relations) to the Commissioner-General of Police, Paul Nyathi, said the Beta driver was avoiding a suspected drunk pedestrian resulting in the bus swerving onto the lane of oncoming traffic.
“The driver of a Beta Bus Company’s Yutong was travelling towards Mutare, with 63 passengers on board and on approaching the 242 km peg it is claimed that the driver was avoiding a suspected drunk pedestrian resulting in the bus swerving onto the lane of oncoming traffic.
“As a result, the bus collided with a Freightliner fuel tanker which was travelling in the opposite direction, with one passenger on board.
“The fuel tanker exploded and both vehicles were engulfed in flames and burnt to ashes… Police will avail the names of the victims once their next of kin have been informed,” said Nyathi.
Meanwhile, Manicaland provincial Medical Director, Dr Simon Nyadundu revealed that six of the 26 patients still admitted at Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital are in critical condition, adding that 40 have been discharged.
“We still have 26 patients as some of them have been discharged. Two people died at the hospital to bring to total the number of death to five. Six are still seriously injured,” he said.
Government is taking care of people hospitalised as well as providing funeral assistance to the bereaved families.
Preliminary investigations indicate that there were 69 passengers in the bus and two people in the tanker.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police urges motorists to be observant and cautious on the roads.