By Thupeyo Muleya
Twelve people died and 45 others were injured yesterday when a bus and a haulage truck were involved in a head on collision, 45km outside Beitbridge, police said.
The government has since declared the accident a national disaster. The MB Transport bus, travelling from Harare and bound for Beitbridge, hit a donkey and swerved into the lane of oncoming traffic resulting in the collision with the truck.
The accident happened at about 1.30AM at the 242km peg along the Masvingo–Beitbridge road. According to the police, 10 people died on the spot while two others died on admission to Beitbridge District Hospital. Of the victims, nine were in the bus while three were in the truck.
The officer commanding crime in Beitbridge District, Assistant Commissioner Bobby Murwira, said the bus was travelling from Harare with 51 passengers on board.
“Upon reaching the 242km peg along the Masvingo–Beitbridge road, the bus hit a donkey and swerved to the side of an oncoming truck resulting in a head on collision that killed 10 people on the spot. Two other people died upon admission to Beitbridge District hospital,” he said.
Asst Comm Murwira said 45 others were injured and taken to Beitbridge District Hospital.
Thirteen of them were discharged while 13 others were transferred to Bulawayo for further treatment. The District Medical Officer, Lenos Samhere, said 19 of the injured people were still detained in hospital in Beitbridge and were in a stable condition.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi, visited the accident scene yesterday before proceeding to comfort survivors at Beitbridge District Hospital.
Kasukuwere announced that the State would assist bereaved families, with each family getting $200 and transport.
“On behalf of the government I would like to express our profound condolences to the grieving families. We’re mourning with them during their hour of darkness. The accident has been declared a national disaster to allow us room to mobilise resources to ensure that the departed are accorded decent burials,” he said.
“I would also want to wish those admitted in hospitals a speedy recovery and call upon motorists to always exercise caution especially during the night to avoid unnecessary loss of life.” Cde Kasukuwere said the government was keen on upgrading the Beitbridge-Harare highway to reduce road accidents.
Mohadi, who is also Beitbridge East legislator, described the accident as horrific. “We’re very sorry to the bereaved families about what has happened. We don’t usually come across such disasters and it’s very sad to witness people’s lives being cut short in such a way,” he said.
The MP for Beitbridge West, Metrine Mudau, said: “You’ll note that most of the accidents around this area are caused by stray animals. It’s important that members of the community look after their livestock to avoid such incidents”.
A visibly shaken MB Transport owner, Brian Mungofa, said he was at a loss for words, but each of the families whose relatives died in the bus would be given $300 to assist with funeral expenses. “My heart is heavy with grief and I would like to extend my condolences to relatives of those who’ve departed,” he said. The Chronicle