MUTARE – Police were accused of causing an accident which left four people dead and eight others injured near Mutare on Wednesday.
A Toyota Hiace carrying morning commuters including school children overturned on the Vumba-Mutare road after a police officer deployed spikes, puncturing one of the tyres, witnesses said.
The government banned privately-owned vehicles from carrying commuters in March 2020 after making the state-owned ZUPCO the only approved public transporter. ZUPCO has proved woefully inadequate with not enough buses which has left travellers stranded for hours.
The banned minibuses, which carried the bulk of travellers, have returned to the roads, constantly playing a cat-and-mouse game with police. Some pay bribes to operate.
National police spokesman Paul Nyathi said: “Police are currently conducting investigations, and we are receiving different versions of what actually transpired.
“It’s an unfortunate incident where lives have been lost, people have been injured. So we are currently conducting investigations with a view of establishing what actually transpired.”
A witness said the Hiace failed to stop at a police checkpoint in a downhill stretch of road near CMED. One of the female police officers threw a metal bar with spikes, puncturing one of the tyres.
“When the police officers realised they had caused a fatal accident, they tried to flee. Residents had to pursue the errant police officers and force them to return to the scene of the accident they caused,” the witness said.
Footage of an enraged mob yelling at the female police officer for deploying spikes has since gone viral on social media.
Government spokesman Nick Mangwana said: “The government is aware of and regrets the current transport difficulties being experienced by commuters and would like to assure them and the nation that plans are underway to bring relief. Short and long-term efficient urban mass transportation system solutions will be implemented.”