By George Maponga
The driver of the South Africa-registered haulage truck that side-swiped a Johannesburg-bound Proliner bus, killing 31 people in Mvuma early this year has been jailed for an effective one year after pleading guilty to one count of culpable homicide and negligent driving.
The truck driver, Regis Mangwari, pleaded guilty to causing the death of the passengers and injury to another 40 in the accident at Nyamatikiti River.
He was also banned by Mvuma magistrate Mr Tayengwa Chibanda from driving all classes of vehicles for the next two years.
Mr Chibanda, in delivering his sentence yesterday, also cancelled Mangwari’s drivers’ licence and he will only apply for a new one after two years as punishment for being grossly negligent, leading to the death and injury of passengers in the horrific accident on April 5 this year.
Mr Chibanda had initially slapped Mangwari with a two-year jail sentence before suspending one year on conditions.
Mangwari, through his lawyer, Mr Josiniya Maupa, appealed for the courts to order him to do community service, but Mr Chibanda said a custodial sentence was necessary since people had died in the accident.
In sentencing Mangwari, Mr Chibanda said he had also considered High Court case Number 165/2013 in which Zupco bus driver Patrick Nyemba killed 12 people after ramming his bus into a haulage truck and was jailed an effective nine months.
Mr Chibanda said Mangwari had also shown remorse and contrition after the accident, when he raised $2 400 to cushion some families of the accident victims.
Each of the affected families is set to receive $100 from him.
The court also considered that Mangwari did not waste its time through a lengthy trial as he was convicted on his own plea of guilty.
In aggravation, the State led by prosecutor Mr Brian Muzemba appealed for a stiffer sentence, saying many people had died in the accident.
Mr Muzemba argued that a punitive sentence would be a lesson to other drivers to exercise caution on the roads and respect the sanctity of human life.
Agreed facts were that Mangwari was driving a tyre-laden haulage truck towards Harare on the day of the accident and on approaching Nyamatikiti River Bridge just after Chaka Business Centre in Mvuma, he lost control of his truck and side-swiped the Proliner Bus.
Both vehicles went up in flames, with some of the passengers inside the bus being burnt beyond recognition.
Other passengers escaped, but sustained severe burns and injuries, resulting in their hospitalisation at Driefontein and Mvuma hospitals.
Eyewitnesses indicated that Mangwari was speeding when the accident occurred. The Herald