By Farayi Machamire
Not for the first time, one of President Robert Mugabe’s motorcade outriders was left badly injured in Harare on Monday during the evening rush hour, after he crashed into a motorist while trying to clear traffic for the nonagenarian who was on his way to State House where he was hosting the visiting Lesotho king.
The hapless law enforcement officer was quickly removed from the scene by other security details, to allow the president’s motorcade to pass through.
Stunned eyewitnesses told the Daily News yesterday that the spectacular accident had happened when the BMW bike outrider rammed into a Toyota Corolla which had apparently reacted slowly to the presidential motorcade — causing significant panic among motorists, who were given a torrid time by Mugabe’s aides.
According to the law, it is an offence not to pull from the road when Mugabe’s speeding motorcade approaches.
One of the eyewitnesses who spoke to the Daily News said the unlucky outrider who was involved in the accident had moved into the lane of oncoming traffic, in his desperate bid to pave way for Mugabe’s lengthy convoy, which was fast approaching.
This unfortunately saw him ending up ramming into the Toyota Corrolla.
And as is the usual practice under those circumstances, Mugabe’s motorcade zoomed past the accident scene, as security measures dictate that the president’s convoy does not stop until it reaches its destination.
Afterwards, eyewitnesses said, agitated police and members of Mugabe’s security team questioned the terrified driver of the Toyota Corrolla — whose vehicle sustained huge dents on both the driver’s and back passenger’s doors due to the impact of the crash with the outrider.
The name and condition of the biker, who was said to have been taken to hospital, was not known at the time of going to press.
The accident occurred after Mugabe had just welcomed King Letsie III of Lesotho at the Harare International, who is in Zimbabwe on an official four day State visit.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said yesterday that she was not aware of the incident.
This is not the first time that Mugabe’s motorcade has been involved in crashes with motorists, some of them fatal — and despite the government tightening the laws that allow the president’s smooth travel on local roads.
In May last year, his motorcade was involved in a similar accident when another of the nonagenarian’s outriders crashed into a commuter omnibus whose driver was later charged with negligent driving.
And in one of the most horrific crashes to involve the presidential motorcade in 2012, one of Mugabe’s outrider met a horrific death when his bike caught fire near Sam Levy village in Borrowdale, Harare.
Traumatised eyewitnesses watched helplessly then as the outrider writhed on the side of the road in agony, battling for dear life as his motorbike — which was lying by his side — was consumed by a raging fire which also killed him moments later.
This was after some passing motorists had desperately tried to put out the fire using their fire extinguishers.
Also in 2012, a police lead vehicle sent to clear traffic ahead of the president’s oncoming convoy, rammed into a commuter minibus carrying 22 passengers.
A male passenger in the minibus died on impact with a police Mercedes, while 15 other people — including two police officers — were seriously injured.
On another trip to Zvimba in the same year, the presidential convoy was also involved in two accidents.
In the first crash, a homeless man was knocked down by a police motorbike in Harare — with the police outrider and the victim both being hospitalised, and the homeless man dying later.
And as the president’s convoy left Kutama on the return journey, an open-top army Land Cruiser carrying members of the presidential guard burst a tyre and overturned — killing Jeoffrey Mukotekwa and wounding several others.
On almost all of these occasions, authorities have blamed negligent motorists — accusing the public of ignoring police signals. Daily News