The Beta Bus driver who had fled the scene of a fatal road accident in which six people were killed when the bus burst into flames after colliding with a fuel tanker at the 242 km peg along the Harare-Mutare has been arrested.
Philip Tawanda Chirindo (34), is facing culpable homicide charges and is expected to appear in court soon. National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrest.
“The ZRP confirms the arrest of Philip Tawanda Chirindo aged 34, the driver of a Beta Bus who escaped after a fatal road traffic accident involving a Freightliner fuel tanker and a Yutong bus which occurred on December 24, 2021 at the 242 km peg along Harare- Mutare Road.
“The suspect who is being charged for Contravening Section 49 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 as read with Section 64 (3) of the Road Traffic Act Chapter 11: 13 ‘Culpable Homicide’, surrendered himself to the Police on December 29, 2021 and will appear in court soon,” he said.
Six people were killed when a Beta bus burst into flames after colliding with a fuel tanker at the 242km peg along the Harare-Mutare highway. Of the six, four died on the spot while the other two after being admitted to hospital.
The deceased included four passengers on the bus, the tanker driver and his passenger. The rest of the passengers kicked emergency exit panels and helped others to escape despite the injuries of many.
However, 54 of those escaping passengers were taken to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital with injuries described as serious. The bus, which was on its way from Harare, encroached onto the opposite lane resulting in the head-on collision with the tanker that was heading towards Harare.
There were reports that the bus driver had tried to avoid a drunk person who was along the road and thereby encroaching onto the opposite lane but investigations are in progress.
Meanwhile, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona visited both the accident victims and the scene yesterday.
“I visited some of the accident victims who are still admitted at Victoria Chitepo General Hospital (formerly Mutare General Hospital) and wished them a quick recovery.
“I visited the accident scene where a Beta bus was involved in an accident with a haulage truck near Christmas in Mutare. I implored drivers to observe and obey traffic rules and regulations to save lives especially during this festive season,” he said.
President Mnangagwa recently paid condolences to the families of the people who died in the accident and prayed for a quick recovery to those who have been hospitalised.
In a statement, President Mnangagwa paid tribute to Sirizani Butau who was burnt while trying to rescue people who were trapped in the wreckage.
“Let me take this opportunity to appreciate Sirizani Butau who saved people from the Mutare Accident . As government we will honour him for his selfless sacrifice,” he said.
“On behalf of our nation, Government and on my own behalf, I wish to express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to families and relatives who lost their beloved ones in yesterday’s horrific traffic accident along the Harare-Mutare highway involving a passenger bus and fuel tanker.
“As we all grieve over the tragic loss of lives in that traffic incident, we again remind each other to exercise extreme caution as we travel to various destinations during the Christmas and New Year break,” said President Mnangagwa.
He cautioned motorists not to get carried away by the gradually improving road network in the country being spearheaded by the Second Republic under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme.