Twenty people died — 19 on the spot — and 26 others were injured yesterday when a Chivi-bound Chawasarira bus burst its right front tyre while overtaking another bus, resulting in a head-on collision with a haulage truck travelling towards Harare at the 59km peg just outside Norton yesterday.
Officer Commanding Traffic at the Police General Headquarters Assistant Commissioner Kenny Mthombeni said the injured had been taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital in the capital.
“I can confirm that there are 19 people who died, 17 adults and two minors, said Mthombeni earlier before the death of the 20th casualty in hospital. “I am reliably informed that the Chawasarira bus, which was headed for Shurugwi, was overtaking a Lofombo bus. Whilst overtaking, it burst its right front tyre. There was oncoming traffic, a haulage truck, which the Chawasarira bus rammed into and ripped the side of the bus. The Lofombo bus tried to veer off the road, but ended up overturning.”
He could, however, not provide the number of those injured.
Mthombeni urged motorists to abide by traffic laws and drive with caution.
“We appeal to all motorists to exercise caution on our roads. We appeal to them not to speed and the public should also discourage speeding.
“Motorists should abide by the rules of the road at all times.”
Survivors, who were visibly shaken, told NewsDay the driver was speeding while one of the conductors was urging him on.
“I was travelling to Shurugwi. The driver of the (Chawasarira ) bus was speeding and one of the conductors was even encouraging him saying ‘rova bhora tiende kumberi (accelerate so that we overtake)’. So at the time of the accident he was trying to overtake the Lofombo bus.
“I just heard the sound of a tyre burst and there was a truck coming towards our direction. All I can remember is waking up to see people lying everywhere. I am lucky to be alive with my baby,” said Musiwa Sayi, who was carrying her seven-month-old baby.
Edna Chivhu (52), another passenger, said: “I really did not see anything as I was already in shock, but all I can say is that God is there.”
The accident comes hard on the heels of many such tragedies in recent weeks, in which scores of people were killed.
Early, this month, 14 people perished in Nyazura when a commuter omnibus burst a rear tyre.
A few days earlier 19 passengers had died in another horrific road accident in Concession, again involving a commuter omnibus.