AN UNLICENSED driver crashed a stolen taxi into a tree and died after allegedly disappearing with the vehicle during a wedding after-party.
The tragic accident that killed Peter Mutungwazi, 34, occurred at around 6PM on Saturday along Airport Road in Bulawayo. Mutungwazi died yesterday morning at around 4am at Mpilo Central Hospital from injuries he sustained in the accident.
He allegedly asked for keys to his friend's taxi, a Toyota Fun Cargo under the pretext that he was going to retrieve his phone. He, however, took off and later rammed into a tree near Andrea Avenue in Romney Park suburb after losing control of the vehicle.
Witnesses expressed shock as they narrated how after hitting the tree, the car made a 360 degree turn, tossing Mutungwazi out onto the ground in the process.
The front wheel of the car landed on one side of the road and the driver's side was badly damaged.
The owner of the taxi, Lovemore Makoni, who was also at the accident scene when the news crew arrived, was shaking with anger as he narrated how he found out about the accident.
"I received an anonymous phone call informing me that Lovemore Makore had just been involved in an accident. I rushed to the scene and noticed that another person had been driving the car. When I called him on his phone, Makore claimed that he had the car but later claimed that it had been stolen," said Makoni.
Makoni said that his driver kept on changing statements about why he had given Mutungwazi the car keys.
Makore said he received a call from his boss a few minutes after giving Mutungwazi the car keys.
"We were playing pool at Queens Park West shops then Peter asked to go outside to get his phone from the car. I was surprised when my boss called me about 10 minutes later, asking me where the car was. I went outside and realised that Peter had disappeared with the car," said Makore.
When reporters visited the funeral wake in Parklands yesterday, Mutungwazi's wife, Sandra, expressed reservations over Makore's alibi.
"I know for a fact that my husband always kept his phone by his side. Lovemore knew that Peter didn't have a licence but I think he let him drive that car. Only Lovemore knows the truth about what happened. It's going to be difficult for me to accept this. It's so painful that Peter had to die like this," she said.
Officer Commanding Bulawayo Traffic Chief Superintendent Maxwell Chikunguru confirmed the accident and said investigations were underway.
"I confirm that there was an accident that happened at about 6PM on Saturday. Peter Mutungwazi, who was driving a green Toyota Fun Cargo, with the consent of his friend, Lovemore Makore sustained severe head injuries and was admitted to Mpilo Central Hospital," said Chief Supt Chikunguru.
He said preliminary investigations indicate that the driver was speeding.