THE driver of the MegaLink coach in which 21 people perished in a horrific accident on Monday morning ignored passengers who warned him against speeding.
Survivors yesterday said their advice fell on “deaf” ears.
The bus veered off the road and crashed into a tree near Ngundu Growth Point along the Masvingo-Beitbridge road killing 20 people on the spot while one died on admission to hospital.
Forty-five people were injured.
One of the survivors, Ms Memory Katsiru (29) of Katsiru Village in Guruve, said: “I am lucky that I survived and I don’t even know how I survived since I was asleep when the accident occurred. However, I remember that before I slept when we were approaching Mvuma, some passengers complained to the bus driver about his speed, but he would not listen.
“I do not know how I survived . . . I think I was thrown out through the roof after it was swept off during the accident.’’
Ms Katsiru suffered a broken shoulder and is admitted at Masvingo General Hospital.
Ms Petronella Mugandiwa (25) of Kuwadzana Extension, Harare, also said the bus was speeding.
“I was asleep when the accident occurred, but the driver was speeding. How can one explain a situation where we left paMbudzi at around 9.20pm and around 1.45am we were already in Ngundu. That means the bus was speeding. I only remember some people pointing at me from the wreckage saying there is a survivor. I don’t know how I survived as I was trapped under the wreckage,’’ she said from her hospital bed.
Mr Rutendo Gava (25), also of Kuwadzana Extension, said the driver refused to reduce speed when the passengers complained.
Meanwhile, police have named nine more crash victims, bringing to 17 the number of people who have been identified so far.
Those identified and whose relatives have been informed are: Tichaona Chimedza of Waterfalls, Piola Zvomoyo of Vengere Township, Rusape, Elsworth Benhura of Highfield, Harare (all ages not given), Dudzai Karawu (27) of Mbare, Harare, Julien Gandawa (30) Glen View 3, Harare, Ivine Mabuda (18) of Gororo in Chivi, Tambudzai Hodzi (31) from Chinzanga in Mutoko, Sarah Mwanza (49) of Chipuriro in Guruve and Washington Charuma (39) of Kuwadzana 5, Harare.
Relatives of some of the victims yesterday accused MegaLink bus company of misleading them on the assistance package.
Mr Rangarirai Koga of Murehwa, whose sister Prisca died in the crash, blasted the bus company, saying it reduced the initially announced US$2 000 package.
He said the company later said it would pay US$510 per deceased person, transport and a coffin.
“This is not fair because we have been here in Masvingo since yesterday (Monday) afternoon and we were waiting after the bus company officials said they were going to assist us in transporting our relatives and also provide coffins for burial.
“In fact, they told us that each victim was going to get US$2 000 to cover funeral expenses,’’ said Mr Koga.
Mr Tendai Sabawu of Glen Norah, who refused to reveal the identity of his deceased relative, accused MegaLink officials of being dishonest.
“This is our second day here and we could have footed the bills to carry our relative for burial yesterday, but they promised us US$2 000 for funeral expenses and nothing has yet come out. They are now telling us that we will get only US$510,’’ said Mr Sabawu.
Mrs Audrey Zimhamba of Hatfied, Harare, who lost her husband Temba Zimhamba, said the promised assistance was later reduced.
“We were running up and down with my relatives since yesterday and nothing is forthcoming. We were being promised US$2 000 from the company’s insurance and we are now surprised to be told today (yesterday) that the package is only US$510 . . . This is not fair,’’ said Mrs Zimhamba.
MegaLink transport manager Mr Joseph Kamujuve yesterday denied claims that the company had promised the victims’ relatives US$2 000 each.
Mr Kamujuve said the company had bought 21 coffins.
“We have full insurance cover and the story that each victim’s family was going to get US$2 000 for funeral expenses might have been caused by misinformation.
“MegaLink bus company, through its insurance company, will give each family US$510 cash and a coffin.
“However, all the coffins are in Harare and as for transport we are in the process of transporting six bodies to Harare,’’ he said.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake yesterday said the death toll was still at 21.
“Relatives of the deceased are coming to identify the bodies,” he said.
On Monday, the Air Force of Zimbabwe airlifted nine critically injured survivors with severe head injuries and fractures to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare where they were yesterday still admitted.
Most of them, hospital sources said, were in stable but critical conditions.
Moonlight Funeral Assurance and Services donated 21 caskets to the deceased families.
In a statement yesterday, the company’s chief executive officer, Mr Chomi Makina, said the caskets will be delivered to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development to be distributed to the families.
Cross-border Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Killer Zivhu said the Government should ensure all bus companies have adequate insurance to cover passengers.
Mr Zivhu said from the look of things, MegaLink might not have adequate insurance cover.
“We want to call upon Government to put in place mechanisms that compel bus companies to have full insurance cover for passengers. MegaLink Bus Company might not have adequate insurance to cover the passengers. They have been dilly-dallying on burial assistance,’’ he said.
Mr Zivhu said the Government should ban long distance buses from travelling at night.