By-Twenty, two people died, and two others were seriously injured when a Toyota Quantum minibus was involved in a head-on collision with a DAF truck at the 27km peg along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road, police confirmed yesterday.
The horror crash happened on Tuesday at around 10pm.
Police identified the survivors as Ms Junior Moyo (38) from Ngwizi, Mangwe District in Matabeleland South who was in the Quantum, and the truck driver, Mr Kizito Mawoneke (41), who was travelling from Beitbridge to Hwange.
Both are admitted at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo.
When our Bulawayo Bureau visited the accident scene yesterday morning, the wreckage of the Toyota Quantum was still there while the truck had been towed away.
A villager, Mr Sibongile Ncube, said he heard a loud bang and screams just before 10PM and he quickly rushed to the scene only to be met by horrific sights as the Toyota Quantum was on its roof with screaming passengers trapped inside.
“Because of the impact from being hit by the truck and overturning, the Quantum’s roof had been squashed down, making it difficult for anyone to come out or even be pulled out.
“However, what got me worried was that there was little movement from the passengers except one lady who was screaming and calling for help,” said Mr Ncube.
He said it was not until the fire brigade arrived that rescue personnel resorted to using “jaws of life” in their rescue efforts.
“It was not a sight that one would want to see again,” said Mr Ncube.
He said the truck was also damaged and the driver was trapped inside.
“The rescue team had to break the driver’s door to get him out,” said Mr Ncube.
An uncle to one of the deceased, Mr Martin Mpofu, said his nephew, a cross-border transporter too, had intended to use a bus but was persuaded by friends to get into the Toyota Quantum.
“He never intended to use this vehicle but somehow his friends persuaded him, kanti bambizela elilweni,” said Mr Mpofu.
Speaking from his hospital bed, Mr Mawoneke, with scars on his face, said the only thing he remembered was seeing a vehicle coming towards his truck.
“I don’t even know what happened afterwards. I only found myself in this bed,” he said as he kept on inquiring about the state of passengers in the Toyota Quantum.
While the police said there was a passenger in the truck, Mr Mawoneke said he was travelling alone. Ms Moyo, visibly in pain, also said she had no memory of what happened.
“I am just thankful for the life that was spared to us,” she said in an apparent reference to other passengers she was with, oblivious that they all perished.
The disaster comes hard on the heels of two other road carnages which claimed nine lives in Chipinge and Masvingo respectively.
Ms Moyo’s husband, Mr Benjamin “Mpho” Ndlovu, said his wife lost her bag with R56 000 and identity documents. She was on her way to South Africa to buy some groceries to restock their shops back home.
According to the police, the accident happened at around 10PM.
“The ZRP reports a fatal road traffic accident, which occurred on November 14 at around 2200 hours at the 27-kilometre peg along Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road near Thandweni Store in which 22 people were killed whilst two others were injured when a Toyota Quantum vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with a DAF truck with one passenger on board,” said the police in a brief statement.
Bulawayo’s Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Judith Ncube, visited the crash site yesterday morning while her Matabeleland South counterpart, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu, visited the victims at the hospital in the afternoon.
Minister Ndlovu said the Government was shocked by the accident and concerned about the sad loss of lives.
“It is tragic that lives have been lost in another road accident in our country and particularly in my province. No words of comfort can bring the departed souls back but we are still grieving together with the families,” she said.
“We have already started consultations and engagements to make sure resources are released to assist the survivors and also families of the victims whom we are passing our utmost condolences.”