EIGHTEEN people died on Monday night, 17 of them on the spot when a speeding container truck with 63 passengers on board veered off the road and overturned several times in Hauna, Manicaland Province, on Sunday evening.
On the same night, three more people died on the spot when the driver of a Mazda B1800 they were travelling in lost control, veered off the road, hit a tree and overturned twice at the 44 km peg along the Beitbridge highway on Sunday.
Police yesterday said 101 people had died countrywide in road accidents since the festive season began.
Manicaland Police spokesperson Inspector Enock Chishiri confirmed the Hauna accident and said names of the deceased were still being withheld until their next of kin were advised.
The truck, owned by Bishop Nyerere (58) and driven by his brother, Given (38) was travelling from Harare.
In the Hauna accident, it is believed that the truck was on its way to collect fruits from surrounding areas to Harare.
Some of the passengers were farmers who had gone to sell their wares in the capital.
Chishiri said the accident happened at around 6:30pm when the driver of the truck lost control of the truck due to speeding and veered off the road.
It overturned several times before landing on its wheels.
“On approaching the 18km peg along Selborne Hauna road where there is a steep descent and a sharp curve, the driver lost control of the vehicle due to speeding,” Chishiri said.
“The truck overturned several times before landing on its wheels.
“During the process, 17 people died on the spot whilst 46 others sustained different injuries.
“The injured ones were rushed to Hauna Hospital, but unfortunately one of them died on admission.
“Some critical passengers including the driver were transferred to Mutare Provincial Hospital for further treatment.”
Over the years, several people have lost their lives around Hauna, Honde Valley and Nyanga areas where the roads are steep.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Peter Zhanero said the Masvingo accident happened at around 3:45pm.
“There were six people aboard a Mazda B1800 truck which was being driven by Albert Ngorima (36) towards Masvingo,” he said.
“Upon approaching the 44 km peg, he lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree before overturning twice.
“Three people died on the spot and were taken to Masvingo General Hospital Mortuary, while four others were injured and are being treated at the same health institution.”
He said police were still withholding the names of the deceased until their next of kin have been informed.
Police have urged the public to use public transport such as buses during this festive season.
“We are urging members of the public to wait for public transport,” Chishiri said.
“They should not board any other means of transport so we beg them to be patient.
“Transporters should not overload their vehicles too and they should follow road regulations properly.”
The national traffic police department said the number of traffic accidents had increased from 579 reported on Sunday to 658.
National Traffic Police spokesperson Superintendent Tinaye Mataki said 561 people were injured up from 412 reported on Sunday.
“A total of 658 road accidents have been recorded in the country so far as of today (yesterday) this festive season compared to 579 recorded on Sunday,” he said.
Mataki said Harare province still had the highest number of accidents that have increased from 244 to 269.
Matabeleland North had the highest number of deaths with 25.
The statistics were recorded from December 15.
Last year a total of 1 785 accidents were recorded during the festive season. Meanwhile, the government has declared the Hauna accident a national disaster.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo told ZBC that government would provide families of the victims with coffins, food and money.