POLICE yesterday said they were keen to question the driver of the Toyota Hiace commuter omnibus in which four people, including a school pupil, died while eight others were injured when it burst its left tyre and overturned after passing through a police checkpoint along the Vumba-Mutare Road in Mutare on Wednesday morning.
Some eyewitnesses alleged that one of the police officers manning the checkpoint threw a spike in a bid to stop the speeding commuter omnibus which then burst its left tyre before overturning and landing on the precast wall at CMED Depot at around 7am.
The deceased included a man, two women and a school child. The vehicle had 12 people on board, including the driver.
Among the eight who were injured, the driver is still admitted in hospital. The injured were taken to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital in Mutare.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said investigations into the incident were still in progress and confirmed that they will soon interview the driver over the matter.
“The ZRP is still investigating the circumstances in which a speeding Toyota Hiace kombi went through a police checkpoint along Vumba-Mutare Road. The vehicle had a left tyre burst after the roadblock and it overturned before landing on a precast wall at CMED Mutare Depot.
“However, the driver of the commuter omnibus is still admitted to hospital and he is yet to be interviewed. We are also looking and keen to interview the owner of the kombi,” he said.
On Wednesday, Asst Comm Nyathi dismissed widespread claims that police officers had thrown a tyre-shredding spike in front of the oncoming vehicle in an attempt to stop it.
“The high roof white kombi did not have number plates. When the commuter omnibus got to a traffic checkpoint, the driver failed to stop. About 500m from the checkpoint, the commuter omnibus rear left tyre burst and the driver lost control of the vehicle. It veered off the road, rolling three times before landing against the CMED precast wall,” he said.
“There was no use of spikes to stop the vehicle by any police officer. It is only being said in social media circles, but otherwise no spike was used.”
Asst Comm Nyathi also confirmed that the omnibus was carrying a combination of school children and other passengers.
The accident sent tongues wagging, with some of the earliest people to arrive at the scene claiming that a female police officer threw a tyre-shredding spike under the vehicle in an attempt to stop the vehicle.