Tsvangirai crash truck driver begs for mercy

HARARE – THE driver involved in the accident that resulted in the death of Susan Nyaradzo Tsvangirai, Prime Minister’s Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife, was distraught and begged for forgiveness yesterday.

Chinoona Mwanda (35), who battled to stop tears streaming down his face, was distressed as he showed police how the accident happened at the 86km peg near the Ngezi turn-off.

Mwanda went through the police indication process that lasted about 40 minutes, battling emotions.

Just two metres away from where he was, lay on its roof, the wreckage of the Toyota Landcruiser AAW 4478 in which the Prime Minister and wife were travelling. Its windows were shattered.

Both Tsvangirai and his wife were pulled out of the mangled remains of the vehicle on Friday afternoon and rushed to Beatrice hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Mwanda took part in rescuing the couple who were on their way to Buhera for an MDC rally at Murambinda Growth Point.

Afterwards the driver was taken to Featherstone Police station by officers who feared he was “so disturbed that he could have committed suicide”.

Mwanda, who stopped a few metres from the accident scene, was said to have been shaken by the realisation that the occupants of the vehicle were the Prime Minister and his wife.

He spent the night at the police station and was taken to the scene yesterday around 9am.

And when The Standard talked to him yesterday, it was evident the bald headed and bearded 35-year-old knew that the accident, besides the loss of life, had the potential to poison the political environment in Zimbabwe.

“I am asking for forgiveness,” was all he could say, tears forming in his eyes.

Mwanda was driving a Nissan Diesel truck belonging to the USaid that hit a hump in the road, which is clearly a hazard on the accident-prone highway.

Police say the “killer hump” may have been formed after road construction workers who were filling in potholes on the road left a mound of tarring material on the road.

Information gathered on the scene and from police who attended the accident shows that as a result of the impact of hitting the hump, which is only on one side of the road, Mwanda’s vehicle encroached onto the other lane side-swiping the Toyota Landcruiser in which the Tsvangirais were travelling in.

It was clear from the wreck of the Landcruiser that the truck’s bumper did not do much damage to the Prime Minister’s car, which was escorted by two vehicles — one in front and the other at the back.

However, distinct marks on the tarmac show that the Landcruiser then veered off the road and landed on its roof facing the opposite direction about 10 metres from the hump. It was extensively damaged and Tsvangirai and his wife were pulled out through the front passenger door.

Police said the injured Prime Minister and his wife were ferried in the escort vehicles to Beatrice, where Susan was pronounced dead. The damaged Landcruiser remained at the scene of the accident yesterday where 10 police officers were guarding the scene. One of them had an AK47.

Information gathered yesterday showed that human rights lawyer Chris Mhike had been hired to represent Mwanda, who is likely to face culpable homicide charges related to the accident.

Mhike confirmed the vehicle belongs to USaid but that it was on business for the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council project funded by USaid. The Standard