Sukulwenkosi Dube Plumtree Correspondent—
THREE people including a boy (3) died while about 15 others were seriously injured after a Harare-bound Metrolyn Bus burst a tyre and overturned along the Bulawayo- Plumtree Road. Plumtree Police Officer in Charge of Crime, Superintendent Mzamo Bhebhe confirmed the incident which occurred at the 82 kilometre peg at around 7PM on Thursday. The bus was coming from Gaborone, Botswana.
He said the deceased were Herbert Mudzamiri (54) and Eniah Makwara (47) both from Harare and three-year-old Nigel Mudarikwa of Gweru. With 74 passengers onboard, comprising Zimbabweans and Batswana, the bus veered off the road and careened for about 300 metres towards the bush. It overturned and slid on its side, uprooting trees.
Four people, among them an elderly woman whose arms officials at Plumtree District Hospital said may be amputated, were rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals for further treatment.
About 11 passengers are admitted to Plumtree District Hospital, with injuries ranging from serious bruises to fractured limbs. The three-year-old boy’s skull was crushed while the two other dead passengers are suspected to have been trampled on by panicky passengers as they stampeded to get out of the bus.
When a Chronicle news crew arrived at the scene police, hospital staff and a fire brigade team were extricating injured passengers and the bodies that were trapped in the wreckage. Five ambulances were shuttling screaming and groaning passengers to Plumtree District Hospital as soon as they were freed from the wreck.
Passengers said in a bid to escape as the bus was hurtling towards the trees, the driver, Mr Victor Otlhabane jumped from his seat to the passengers’ area. They alleged that he was speeding and the bus was overloaded.
“The driver was travelling at an excessive speed and I think that’s why the bus took long to come to a stop. We were packed in the bus as it collected some passengers we found stranded along the way after their vehicle broke down.
“The luggage which was in the bus was also excessive as there were plenty of bags and small property items,” said Mr Michael Mahlangu, who was going to Gweru. Plumtree Fire Brigade lead fire fighter, Mr Graham Dube said they had to cut through seats to retrieve the bodies.
‘’We had to cut through seats and logs as some people were trapped beneath. We managed to pull out an elderly woman who was badly hurt as well as three people who had already died,” said Mr Dube.
Mr Otlhabane said he had passed through a backyard garage in Plumtree Town to have one of the tyres replaced as the one that was on the bus had developed a fault. He said the replaced tyre is the one which burst.
Mr Otlhabane said he failed to control the vehicle and it eventually swerved off the road at a curve. Mrs Beauty Mudarikwa, the mother of the three-year-old boy who died, said she was travelling from Botswana to Gweru with her three children to attend her father’s memorial service.
She said her other two children aged eight and 11 years were severely injured and were admitted to the United Bulawayo Hospitals.