EIGHT people, among them three infants, were killed when a Mercedes Benz they were travelling in was involved in a head-on collision with a haulage truck at the 271km peg along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road yesterday. Witnesses told of a horrific moment as three of the victims who were trapped in the wreckage burned to death while motorists watched helplessly.
The Mercedes Benz was reportedly travelling towards Gwanda from Beitbridge with eight people on-board including the driver, while the haulage truck was travelling from Bulawayo to Beitbridge.
The incident occurred at around 3pm but the police only got the report two hours later.
Police officers close to the investigations said the driver of the Mercedes Benz tried to overtake in the face of oncoming traffic resulting in the head-on crash.
“Indications are that the driver of the Mercedes Benz tried to overtake another vehicle. Unbeknown to him there was a truck travelling in the opposite direction resulting in the head-on collision,” said the source.
“The two vehicles caught fire on impact. Two men who were in the truck escaped unhurt.”
When Chronicle arrived at the scene, bodies of the dead had already been ferried to Beitbridge District Hospital mortuary.
Both vehicles had been reduced to shells.
Several empty beer bottles could also be seen in the wreckage of the Mercedes Benz.
The two vehicles had also blocked the road, forcing police officers to divert traffic to avoid another accident.
Witnesses said the driver of the smaller vehicle was spotted earlier in the day drinking beer in Beitbridge and died while holding on to a bottle of beer and the steering wheel.
“When we arrived here three people from the Mercedes Benz had been seriously burnt. The driver was still trapped in the wreckage holding on to a beer bottle and the steering wheel,” said a woman identified only as Susan.
Another witness said: “Three of the victims were trapped inside the Benz.
“They were screaming as they slowly burned to death. There was nothing anyone could do to assist them.”
Police officer commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Patrick Majuta could not be reached for comment last night.
The accident comes a few months after 20 people were killed when a Mercedes Benz Sprinter they were travelling in was involved in a head-on collision with a Hino truck about 80km along the Beitbridge-Masvingo road near Lion and Elephant Motel