From Our Correspondent
Officials at the
government's Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) have been accused of
causing the death of Border Gezi, the Minister of Youth, Gender and Employment
Creation, in a road accident near Mvuma early this year, after they negligently
fitted a defective tyre on his official Mercedes Benz vehicle.
Handing down the verdict of
an inquest into the death of Gezi and his driver Nicholas Murondatsimba on
Friday, the coroner, Oliver Mudzongachiso, accused the CMED officials of lying
about the condition of the tyre during cross-examination.
Murondatsimba died on the spot when the ministerial car burst a tyre, veered off
the road and overturned at the 200km peg along the Harare-Masvingo road on 28
Mudzongachiso, in his 150-page long verdict, said Fidelis Muchenje
and Langton Chatama, the two senior officials at the VVIP section of the CMED,
acted negligently when they fitted a wrong tyre to Gezi's ministerial Mercedes
Benz on 19 February. The defective tyre later peeled off and caused the
"Due to momentum which was caused when the left rear tyre
failed and the vehicle swerved to the right, it swung around, faced east,
careered by the back and in the process hit on to three trees and ended up
resting upon a huge gum tree facing west." "Due to the impact upon the trees,
the two met their deaths," said Mudzongachiso.
He said the two witnesses
lied in order to distance themselves from the tyre which later peeled off, and
tried to clear themselves from the negligence allegations. During
cross-examination, Muchenje, an artisan at the CMED VVIP depot, denied having
seen the tyres which were presented before the court as exhibits. He told the
court that the tyre which caused the accident was not
the one he had fitted.
"When Muchenje was shown the blown-up tyre, he started to backtrack,
saying he did not know it and made weird suggestions that it could have been
fitted elsewhere," said Mudzongachiso.
"He then changed and said he had
fitted the tyre on the right rear side and not the left rear. On another plane,
he readily admitted he was not allowed to fit different tyres on a vehicle.
"This witness's testimony readily confirms that indeed the tyre he fitted
was on the left rear, but when he realised it, he began to throw spanners at
every possible avenue, he knew that this issue had drastic consequences."
The evidence by Chatama, the acting foreman and inspector at the CMED
VVIP section, was also dismissed as incoherent and untrue. Despite being shown
an exhibit which suggested that the car had been brought to the depot on 19
February for a tyre repair, Chatama still insisted that the correct date was 28
He said Gezi's car had come for general service and not
specifically for tyre repair. Chatama said it was only after routine service
that he discovered the worn-out tyre, and instructed Muchenje to replace it.
He later turned around and said he did not see the tyre and was not
there when it was fitted to Gezi's car. The inquest, which took nearly two
weeks, involved a visit to the scene of the accident, a study of eyewitness
accounts as well as police reports on the accident.