BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THREE witnesses in a case involving a police officer, Constable Peter Muzulu, who allegedly molested 21 pupils at Bulu Primary School in Mpoengs, died on Monday after a truck that was ferrying them from court veered off the road and overturned after hitting a pothole along the Plumtree-Brunapeg Road.
Among them a teacher, Perseverance Zivanayi (46), who had initially sustained head injuries, died upon admission at Tshitshi Clinic; pupil Sharon Ncube (14) died on the spot; and a guardian to one of the pupils Mary Nandi (32) also died on the spot.
The driver and eight other passengers, who included four teachers, three pupils and two other guardians, all witnesses, escaped with serious injuries; and are admitted at Plumtree District Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals.
National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the accident.
“I confirm to have received a report of an unfortunate road accident which happened on Monday at 56km peg along Plumtree-Mphonegs road, where three people died including a student aged 14. Nine others were injured when a Nissan pick-up they were travelling hit a pothole in the middle of the road and its rear left tyre burst and the vehicle’s axle broke. It went on to hit another pothole and veered off the road before overturning twice leading to two people dying on the spot and another on admission at Tshitshi Clinic,” Nyathi said.
Reports said the truck driver gave a lift to witnesses who had attended a court case at Plumtree Magistrates’ Court involving Muzulu (35), stationed at Mphoengs Police Station, who is facing charges of aggravated indecent assault on 21 pupils at Bulu Primary School in Mphoengs.
The truck was reportedly overloaded. It was also carrying gas cylinders and groceries.
Tshitshi ward councillor and Mangwe Rural District Council chair, Sindisiwe Nleya yesterday said she was saddened by the deaths and urged the relevant authorities to refurbish the roads.
“We are really saddened as a community by the accident which has claimed innocent lives. Our hearts are with the bereaved families following such a great loss.
However, we are appealing for the upgrading of the tarred road so that they get rid of the potholes. The accident happened when the driver was trying to avoid potholes,” she said.
She also urged school authorities to use public transport which she said was safer than hiking in open trucks.
“The vehicle was an open truck and indications are that it was overloaded with gas cylinders, which could have also hit the children causing their death and injuries. The open truck also threw them out hitting against the ground. This accident could have been avoided. It’s sad,” she added.
In the case, police officer Muzulu, stationed at Mphoengs Police Station, allegedly sexually molested 21 pupils while conducting an investigation into sexual abuse at the school in March and is facing aggravated indecent assault charges.
Muzulu allegedly fondled and inserted his finger into private parts of the female pupils.