The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 10 Perish in Kombi Crash

TEN people were killed, seven of them on the spot, while six others were seriously injured when a Chitungwiza-bound commuter omnibus veered off the road and rammed a tree just after Trek Service Station (formerly Chinhamo) along Seke Road yesterday morning. Of the three in serious condition, two died on admission at Chitungwiza Central Hospital while the other one died at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

Three people were still at Parirenyatwa Hospital last night, while the other one was at the Avenues Clinic. The whereabouts of two others could not be ascertained. All were said to be in critical condition from the accident that was attributed to speeding.

Nine of the 10 bodies were at Chitungwiza Central Hospital Mortuary and the other at Parirenyatwa Hospital Mortuary. The accident occurred at around 11am. Chitungwiza Central Hospital chief executive officer Dr Obadiah Moyo said last night that relatives had identified six of the nine bodies.

Police were yesterday trying to ascertain the names of the other deceased. The driver of the kombi, who lived in Zengeza 4, also died on the spot. A witness, Mr Costa Hodzi, said: "The kombi veered off the road and the driver tried to control it since he was about to hit a tree.

"That is when I ran back towards my field since I suspected that the kombi could come towards where I was. I heard a huge bang and when I looked back, I discovered that the kombi had hit a tree," he said.

"Four people who were injured were taken by another kombi to the hospital while others by ambulances. Seven people died on the spot. From the information I heard so far, the driver is known for speeding by some of his colleagues," Mr Hodzi said.

When The Herald went to Parirenyatwa Hospital in the evening, the conductor and two passengers were in examination and neurological wards.

According to nurses, the two passengers did not have identification particulars. They were both on drips and appeared to be in excruciating pain.

The Herald could not speak to relatives as kombi crews threatened them with violence, but the conductor of the doomed vehicle - identified only as Barry - said: "We were 19 including me and the driver when the accident occurred. I was thrown outside the commuter omnibus upon impact and I do not have a clear picture of what happened afterwards.

"I woke up here at the hospital and I was surprised to see people surrounding me when the last thing I noticed were people lying all over. I had stitches on my arm."

When The Herald arrived on the accident scene, dead bodies were still on the ground and police were recording witnesses' statements.

The head of Police National Traffic (operations) Assistant Commissioner Shelton Dube said initial investigations showed the kombi driver tried to overtake another vehicle but lost control.

"He was coming from the city heading towards Chitungwiza and he tried to overtake another vehicle near the scene but he veered off the road and hit a tree," he said adding investigations were on going.

"We would want to urge motorists particularly kombi drivers to respect human life and observe the rules and regulations when travelling on the roads. This accident could have been avoided," he said.

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