DNA tests for Anglican pilgrims The shell of the Passion Link coach that caught fire while ferrying Anglican Church pilgrims from Bernard Mizeki Shrine in Marondera to Manicaland on Sunday night. The incident occurred along the Nyabadza-Gandanzara Road in Makoni District. — Picture: Tinai Nyadzayo.

Crime Reporter 

DNA tests for the eight Anglican Diocese of Manicaland pilgrims who died when a Pashon Link bus caught fire are now underway to identify their severely burnt remains while police are conducting comprehensive investigations with a view to coming up with proper charges for the transport operator.

On Monday, the day after the incident, the operating licence of  Pashon Link Coaches was cancelled by Government after a blaze inside an unroadworthy bus burnt beyond recognition the eight pilgrims, who were returning from their shrine at Bernard Mzeki in Marondera.

Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Felix Mhona said the company’s licence was being withdrawn because the bus had no certificate of fitness. 

In an interview yesterday, national police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi said investigations were still in progress.

“We are still conducting investigations and awaiting DNA tests, of which the process is now underway. We will release the results in due course.

“We are also conducting comprehensive investigations and in due course, we will release the charges for the transport owner and driver,” he said. 

Comm Nyathi said investigations have revealed that the bus had no proper documents to be on the road.

“Since last Friday, the bus had been developing some faults, something we feel that the management should take responsibility for,” he said.

Comm Nyathi urged church leaders to ensure that they hire buses from reputable companies and that they should also ensure they travel with a passenger manifesto with full particulars of members on board. 

He said church members should also avoid travelling at night when going and coming from gatherings. 

The bus had 66 passengers on board when it caught fire, and 58 managed to escape while eight were presumed dead.

The accident occurred on Sunday at around 8pm near Gandanzara Business Centre, about 44km along the Nyabadza-Gandanzara Road. 

The pilgrims were returning to their rural homes in Sherukuru in Mutasa District.

Currently six victims are hospitalised, two of them with severe burns. 

The bus experienced several mechanical faults along the way, including a faulty clutch, and on approaching the 26km peg along the road, passengers noticed smoke coming out of the engine and alerted the driver, Ray Donald Mugari (40), who promptly stopped to investigate the source of the smoke. 

Mugari allegedly opened the engine cover inside the bus near the passengers’ door, and immediately a ball of fire engulfed the whole bus. 

Mugari and 57 other passengers escaped from the burning bus through the door and emergency exit windows, while eight people were trapped inside and were burnt to death.

A forensic team from the police headquarters visited the scene together with local emergency teams to identify and arrange the bodies for positive identification.

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