MUTARE – There was drama in Mutare’s Hospital Hill low-density suburb on Monday morning when a highway traffic police patrol Mercedes Benz caught fire during a high speed chase with a commuter omnibus that had flouted road rules.
Residents from the relatively quiet hilly suburb said they heard tyres screeching as the police vehicle followed up the Toyota Hiace, which had diverted from the main tarred road near Mutare Provincial Hospital and drove into the badly damaged dirty roads in the suburb.
In no time, they saw smoke gusting from a distance and subsequently heard loud cries as the police officers screamed for help from members of the public to put out the fire on their service vehicle.
When Weekender visited the scene, a fire tender from the Mutare City Council had quickly responded to the emergency call and managed to douse the flames with water.
Another highway patrol vehicle also rushed to the scene to assist their colleagues, who apparently were left awestruck by the foiled kombi chase.
The Mercedes Benz C class vehicle, which is valued at more than US$30 000, had its wiring system badly damaged by the fire, which started from the engine area.
“The car hit a pothole and caught fire,” said one of the police officers who did not identify himself.
Although the police officer downplayed the high speed chase incident saying they were just patrolling the pot-hole riddled suburb with little traffic activity, residents and vendors who sale wares in the area said they witnessed the typical “Fast and Furious” movie incident.
“We first saw the kombi speeding down the damaged steep slopes and moments later the Mercedes Benz came roaring.
“These guys were determined to catch up with the kombi. Some metres into the suburb the vehicle caught fire and we rushed to help,” said a vendor.
Kombi drivers and pirate taxi operators appear to have devised ways of outwitting chasing traffic cops. One such trick is to divert from the highways into dirty roads where cops behind the wheels of state-of-the-art traffic patrol vehicles and motorbikes find it hard to manoeuvre the bad roads.
What happened at the Hospital Hill suburb seems to bear testimony to this thinking. Manica Post