SEVEN people died while 23 others were critically injured in two separate accidents in Bulawayo and Plumtree.
Three people died on the spot yesterday afternoon while 14 others were seriously injured when a kombi overturned and rolled thrice along Old Esigodini Road near Rio Hotel in Bulawayo.
In Plumtree, four people were killed while nine sustained serious injuries when a Toyota Granvia they were travelling in veered off the road, overturned and rolled before smashing into a tree at the 95km peg along the Bulawayo-Plumtree Road on Sunday evening.
The injured in both accidents were rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where they are battling for their lives.
Four others were ferried to Plumtree District Hospital. The kombi is said to have been coming from How Mine heading to the city centre while the Granvia was headed for Plumtree from Bulawayo.
Graham Guruve, who witnessed the Bulawayo kombi crash said, "I was doing my work when I heard a loud crash. I ran to the scene and found the kombi lying on its side and we started assisting the injured".
He said they called the police and fire brigade at around 1.40PM but there was no immediate response.
Guruve said private taxi drivers helped to ferry some of the injured to hospital after ambulances took long to arrive on the scene.
National Traffic Consultative Committee vice chair Mark Ngalulu, who was at the scene, regretted the slow response by emergency services.
"We're worried by the reaction time taken by the emergency services when attending to accidents. The police took three hours 20 minutes to come and pick the bodies on site and control the traffic," he said.
When Chronicle arrived at the accident scene, members of the public were controlling traffic before handing the task to the traffic police officers when they finally arrived.
Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe Bulawayo regional head Barbra Mpofu attended the scene and urged motorists to exercise extreme caution on the roads and desist from speeding when approaching curves.
In the Plumtree accident, witnesses said the drivers of two vehicles were racing resulting in the Granvia driver, Mduduzi Siziba, 25, losing control after the left rear tyre burst.
Among the deceased in the Plumtree accident was a four-year-old girl, Nolwazi Khumalo, a pupil from Khahlu Primary school in Mangwe District who was travelling with her mother.
"The driver attempted to overtake another vehicle and in the process one of the tyres burst. He lost control of the vehicle and it veered off the road," said one of the Granvia crash survivors who requested anonymity.
"I don't know what happened thereafter because everyone was screaming as the vehicle was spinning. This is a terrible thing. We were almost home and in just a few seconds we were ready to drop off."
The survivors accused the driver of speeding. They said he broke his legs and arms in the crash.
A fire brigade official who attended the scene said the Granvia had 13 passengers on board including the driver. "When we arrived at the scene bodies were scattered all over the bush and there was no one left inside the vehicle. It seems that people were thrown out of the vehicle when it overturned," said the official.
"Three people were already dead while others were critically injured including a child who was travelling with her mother."
The child later died at Plumtree Hospital.
Other victims have been identified as Phanwell Khumalo, 55, who was employed as a DDF tillage supervisor, Joyce Mathanda, 57 and Silothando Tshuma, 31.