By Andile Tshuma/Esinathy Sibanda
A pupil died while 15 others, including two adults, were injured when a kombi they were travelling in broke a ball joint, overturned and rolled thrice in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb yesterday.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Chief Inspector Precious Simango confirmed the accident which happened at about 6.45AM near Mahlathini turn-off.
She identified the deceased as Bradley Chris Phiri (19), an ‘A’ Level pupil at Elite College in the city centre.
“The driver of a Toyota Hiace kombi was driving from Cowdray Park to town with 16 passengers on board. When he reached Mahlathini turnoff, the vehicle broke the front left ball joint which caused the kombi to swerve off the road. It rolled three times, killing one passenger and 15 passengers were injured and referred to Mpilo Central Hospital. Twelve passengers were treated and discharged and three are still admitted but stable,” Chief Insp Simango said.
When The Chronicle arrived at the scene, the lifeless body of the high school pupil lay next to the kombi covered with a blanket. The injured had already been ferried to hospital.
The Chronicle spoke to the driver of the kombi, Mr Nkosilathi Moyo, who appeared to be in shock, in the aftermath of the accident.
He said he was a driver at Bravo Bus Company and had picked some passengers on his way to the city centre to cushion his fuel needs.
Mr Moyo said his kombi is a registered public service vehicle and he holds a valid driver’s licence.
“I was driving to town when I picked some passengers. I heard a loud bang emanating from the front tyre at the passenger’s side. A ball joint had broken. I lost control of the vehicle. There was oncoming traffic. I tried to swerve to the left but the vehicle was uncontrollable and I ended up facing the direction I was coming from,” he said.
Mr Moyo said there was a lot of commotion in the vehicle following the loud bang caused by the breaking of the ball joint.
“This car is a high roof vehicle. After the bang, people panicked and stood up and went to one side of the vehicle so I guess the weight was concentrated on one side. I don’t remember well what happened next but that people were injured and we had lost one of the passengers,” he said.
Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer Mr Richard Peterson said they attended the scene and ferried the injured to hospital.
“A road traffic accident occurred this morning in Cowdray Park involving a commuter omnibus carrying school children. One pupil died on the spot and the rest were transferred to Mpilo Central Hospital. Crews are still at the site dealing with the incident,” he said. The Chronicle