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POLICE in Mutasa have launched a manhunt for the driver of a Vazungu Bus Service who disappeared from the crash scene following an accident that killed six people in Mutasa last Thursday night.

Six people died on the spot, while 63 were injured, 11 of them seriously, when the bus ferrying church members to an Easter gathering at Gatsi near Honde Valley crashed near Bonda Mission.

Acting Manicaland Traffic co-ordinator Chief Inspector Cyprian Mukahanana attributed the accident to speeding. He said police were yet to locate the driver who fled after the accident.

"The driver disappeared from the scene soon after the accident. Efforts to trace his whereabouts are being frustrated by his employers who are not helpful. It is almost a week since the accident happened and we are not making any headway to interview the driver," he said.

Chief Insp Mukahanana said the driver was speeding, resulting in him losing control of the bus which then rolled three times before landing on its roof.

"The accident happened at around 10pm. The bus was ferrying International Pentecostal Church of Zimbabwe church members who were attending Easter celebrations in Hauna. About 9km from Bonda Mission the driver lost control of the bus and it rolled three times and landed on its roof. Six people were killed on the spot, three of them children. A total of 63 people were injured with 11 of them sustaining serious injuries. Some were treated and discharged at Bonda Mission Hospital while those who sustained serious injuries were ferried to Mutare Provincial Hospital."

Church members who were at the scene of the accident last Friday morning said the driver was speeding and failed to negotiate the sharp bend near Nyamazi River.

"We were travelling to Honde Valley from Harare and it seems the driver was not familiar with the terrain. When the driver realised that there was a sharp curve he tried to apply brakes, but the bus overturned and rolled three times. We are lucky to have survived. We are here waiting for transport to ferry our belongings.

"It was just a black day for our church and we hope God will help us to overcome this grief. We did not expect tragedy to strike and claim the lives of our devoted members who were looking forward to praising the Lord during the Easter holiday. Everything is done for a purpose, but we always found strength in God," said a member who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another church member said they had tried to talk to the driver to reduce speed, but he wouldn't listen.

"There are a lot of sharp curves along this road and we warned the driver, but he remained adamant, saying he was familiar with the terrain. If he had heeded our pleas, lives could have been saved.

"Besides facing the reality of the accident, we had to endure a very cold night here. We were almost freezing, but we could not leave our belongings here unattended," said another church member.

Meanwhile, a total of 67 touts were arrested by the police during the Easter holidays.  

Chief Insp Mukahanana said the suspects were causing problems at bus termini in Mutare and surrounding areas.

"These touts were harassing travellers who intended to visit their relatives during the holidays. Some of them were fined while others were taken to courts."

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