BULAWAYO – Police have been accused of a cover-up over a December 2018 road traffic accident in which a cyclist was badly injured after being run-over by Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s vehicle in Matopo, Matabeleland South.
Lovemore Mangena, who works at the High Court in Bulawayo, has come forward to claim that he was driving the vehicle at the time with Malaba, his wife and their housekeeper as passengers.
Mangena has never been arrested or charged, and the victim – 64-year-old Herosi Moyo of Silungidzi village – says police have never taken a statement from him.
The accident reportedly happened at around 11AM. Moyo’s family does not remember the exact date, although they speculate it was between 11 and 13 December 2018. A CT scan was performed on Moyo on December 13, according to documents uncovered by CITE journalist Zenzele Ndebele.
Moyo was cycling home from the local shops at Tshapo when he says Malaba’s vehicle, which he remembers only as a “big car”, rammed into him and his bicycle from behind.
Bleeding from the ears and with a visible head wound, Moyo was rushed to the nearby Natisa Clinic and later ferried by ambulance to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo where he was treated for two weeks, running up a hospital bill the pensioner struggled to pay off.
Now Moyo’s family is demanding compensation from Malaba, and a return of his bicycle which Mangena took away promising to get it repaired. The bicycle – bought with his small pension – is Moyo’s most-prized possession.
“We did not give any statements to the police, yet we understand that it is part of the procedure as they are supposed to come and attend the scene,” Moyo’s cousin Kemesi Bhebhe told CITE.
“We would have expected that Malaba as a senior public official would have come back to the family to apologise after the incident, as accidents do happen, but he has not done so.”
Moyo’s wife, Margaret Nyathi, said: “Malaba was supposed to compensate us, but he has not done so. They know our home because immediately after the accident, we drove here with Malaba’s wife so I could collect some fresh clothes for my husband. They (Malabas) drive past our homestead all the time, they could have dropped off the bicycle long ago.”
The family is also bitter over a US$840 hospital bill which they struggled to settle.
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) secretary Walter Chikwana said: “It is wrong to blame the accident on the Chief Justice as he was a passenger in the vehicle involved in the accident.
“The driver (Mangena) said he made a police report and spoke to relatives. He is willing to help and is willing to travel to Kezi Police Station to assist Moyo to collect the bicycle.”
Moyo’s family however fears the accident investigation was quietly closed because the Chief Justice’s vehicle was involved.
Mangena said he recalls driving behind Moyo who was cycling “whilst carrying a Calabash” – reference to a traditional brew in a bright peach modern African gourd container. The Chief Justice was travelling to Bulawayo from his home in Kezi.
“I hooted at him as I approached but he cycled into the road and the car hit him, denting the mirror. I stopped afterwards and took him to Natisa Clinic and left the Chief Justice there after calling another driver to come and fetch him,” Mangena told CITE.
Witnesses described Malaba’s wife as “wailing” in the immediate aftermath of the accident, although no-one in their vehicle suffered any physical injuries.
Mangena said he took Moyo’s bicycle and other belongings to Kezi Police Station.
“I left the bicycle at Kezi Police Station. I went there to make my statement after I had already made a report to a police officer who was at Natisa Clinic. As the ambulance took Moyo to Mpilo Central, I followed with his relatives,” he said.
He added that once in Bulawayo, he assisted Moyo conduct X-rays and paid part of the bills at Mpilo Hospital.