Smart Express bus driver twice denied bail

Tendai Gukutikwa Post Correspondent
AFTER two unsuccessful bail applications at Rusape Magistrates’ court, the Smart Express bus driver’s lawyer has submitted a fresh application at the Mutare High Court.

The bus driver, Cosmos Munotyei Marembo (50) is being accused of causing the Rusape bus accident in November, which killed 46 people and left dozens others injured.

He has been in custody since surrendering to the police on November 8, two days after a manhunt had been launched for him. Marembo is being represented by counsel Cosmas Chibaya of Chibaya and Partners Legal Practitioners.

In the application, Mr Chibaya argued that his client was a suitable candidate for bail, as he was also injured during the accident and was still experiencing pain in the chest and neck. He stated that Marembo needed medical attention, particularly an X-ray to check if he had no serious internal injuries.

It was also in the application that Marembo was not a flight risk as the State would allege as he resides at Marembo village under Chief Mudzimuirema in Chihota and that he should be ordered to reside there until the matter was finalised.

Mr Chibaya further proposed that Marembo be ordered to fork out $500 in bail and that he reports twice weekly at Mahusekwa Police Station. He also argued that by fleeing from the scene, Marembo had not turned fugitive, as he later turned himself to the police.

The State is yet to respond to the bail application.

Marembo is being charged with one contravening Section 49 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, and sections 70 (2) and 70 (5) of the Road Traffic Act, which is one culpable homicide charge and failure to report an accident within 24 hours as well as stop and offer assistance at an accident scene.

The matter recently appeared before Rusape Magistrate, Mr Gift Manyika who denied Marembo bail on the basis that he is facing serious offenses and is a flight risk as he is of no fixed abode. He also stated that because he had fled from the scene and only turned himself in after a manhunt had been launched, he was likely to abscond court and probably cross into neighbouring countries because of fear of prosecution.

He also cited Marembo’s safety saying he was way safer in custody than out of custody as a lot of lives were lost on the fateful day and some relatives might want to take revenge on him.

Allegations are that on November 7, Marembo who was driving a Higer bus, registration ABO 2730, which belonged to Smart Express bus company attempted to overtake on prohibited double white lines at the 162km peg along Harare-Mutare road, was involved in a side-swipe accident with Temba Sorota (now deceased), who was driving a Zhong Tong bus, which belongs to Bolt Cutter coming from Harare. This resulted in the death of 46 passengers and the injury of 59 others.

“Bail is your right according to the constitution but not an absolute right, as it can be limited considering reasons given by the state. The accused is a flight risk who soon after the accident, fled from the scene. The defence counsel said he did not flee but just removed himself from the scene and later went to police after two days. Why did he remove himself from the scene?

“The accident was a horrific one and was declared a national disaster. The public will lose confidence in the justice system if the accused is freed on bail. This accident is a sensitive one and for your own safety you will not be granted bail. Many people are emotionally attached to this case.”

The matter was adjourned to a later date for trial.