THE Smart Express bus driver, Cosmas Munotyei Marembo who bolted from the scene of the accident he allegedly caused killing 46 people and injuring dozens in the process, has been denied bail by a Rusape magistrate.
Marembo (50) only surrendered to police two days after a manhunt had been launched for him.
He is being charged with one count of culpable homicide and two counts under the road traffic act – failing to report an accident within 24hrs and failing to stop and offer assistance at an accident scene.
He was represented by Mr Cosmas Chibaya of Chibaya and Associates who begged Rusape magistrate, Mr Gift Manyika to release his client on bail arguing that by fleeing from the scene Marembo was not being fugitive as he later handed himself to police.
State prosecutor Mr Marion Makamba had submitted that Marembo was facing very serious offences and must not be admitted bail as he had fled from the scene and only handed himself when a manhunt for him was launched.
“On November 7, 2018 Marembo was driving a Higer bus, registration ABO 2730, which belonged to Smart Express and he attempted to overtake on prohibited double white lines at the 162km peg along Harare-Mutare road and was involved in a side-swipe accident with Temba Sorota, now deceased, who was driving a Zhong Tong bus, which belongs to Bolt Cutter coming from Harare. This resulted in the death of 46 passengers and the injury of 59 others.
“After being involved in a serious accident Marembo failed to report it within 24 hours. He also failed to stop after the accident and render assistance to the injured passengers,” said Makamba said.
In denying Marembo bail, Mr Manyika said he was not suitable, as he had fled the scene soon after the accident, which affected a lot of people in the country so his safety was not guaranteed.
“Bail is your right according to the constitution but not an absolute right, as it can be limited considering reasons given by the state. The accused is a flight risk who soon after the accident, fled from the scene. The defence counsel said he did not flee but just removed himself from the scene and later went to police after two days. Why did he remove himself from the scene?
“The accident was a horrific one and was declared a national disaster. The public will lose confidence in the justice system if the accused is freed on bail. This accident is a sensitive one and for your own safety you will not be granted bail. Many people are emotionally attached to this case.
“The sensitivity of the accident has been amplified by social media and your safety is no longer guaranteed out of custody. The magnitude of the sensitivity is very high,” said Mr Manyika.
Mr Manyika pushed the matter to 23 November 2018 when the state will provide a trial date.