A commuter omnibus conductor, Oshia Njenge, who luckily escaped a horrific crash near Mutorashanga turn-off, is still struggling to come to terms with the painful end of his eight passengers and driver after their vehicle burst into flames at the 31km peg along the Mazowe-Centenary Road on Friday.
The ill-fated commuter omnibus side-swiped with a lorry at 7pm.
The vehicle was carrying eight passengers plus the driver and conductor.
Njenge, who was the only survivor, was seated at the back seat when the accident happened.
He had to jump through the shattered back screen of the vehicle.
As he was trying to rescue trapped passengers, the kombi burst into flames and he could only watch from a distance.
“I was sitting at the back seat of the kombi when I heard a deafening bang. The back screen was shattered and I escaped through it. I tried to rescue other passengers, but there was an explosion which made it impossible to assist them,” said Njege.
“Some of the passengers, including the driver, managed to find their way out of the kombi, but they were engulfed by the flames.
“It was a sorry site watching them being burnt to death. They were screaming for help, but nothing could be done to assist them,” said Njenge.
Both Civil Protection Unit chair Mr Cosmas Chiringa and Mashonaland Central provincial police spokesperson Inspector Milton Mundembe confirmed the accident.
“The accident happened near Mutorashanga turn-off around 7pm on Friday night. The kombi, which had nine passengers including the driver, side-swiped with a lorry and eight people were burnt to death. One of them was burnt beyond recognition. The conductor of the kombi was the only survivor,” said Mr Chiringa.
The kombi is said to have been carrying four rolls of fibreglass and some flammable substances suspected to be petrol or resin, which burst into flames as a result of the impact.
Insp Mundembe said the remains of the eight passengers were taken to Concession District Hospital mortuary.
Seven bodies were positively identified yesterday.
One body could not be identified as it was burnt beyond recognition.
He said two of the three people who were in the lorry escaped with minor injuries and were treated at Concession District Hospital.
For Zephania Muringazuva, who witnessed the accident, it was the screaming that still haunts him the most.
The lorry, he claimed, was driving in front of the kombi and suddenly turned right without indicating.
“The kombi then side-swiped with the lorry. It was carrying flammable substances which caused the explosion upon impact of the two vehicles. We are not sure what the substances were because some are saying they were filled tanks of gas while some said it was petrol.
“The fire was just uncontrollable and we watched in shock as people were being burnt to death. We are still being haunted by their screaming,” he said.
Insp Mundembe appealed to those missing their relatives to visit Concession District Hospital to help identify the remaining body.
He urged motorists to observe road regulations to avoid unnecessary loss of lives.
“We also want to urge motorists to ensure there is adequate breaking distance between their vehicles. Passenger transporters should avoid night journeys.
“We also want to urge motorists not to carry flammable substances in public vehicles,” said Insp Mundembe.
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