The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
IT is rare for those who witness road accidents to smile, but hundreds of villagers near Victoria Falls yesterday had a bus accident to thank after they walked away with chunks of meat after three elephants were killed in the accident.
However, all 18 passengers and the bus crew were not injured after the CAG Travellers bus they were travelling in rammed into a herd of elephants about 35km outside Victoria Falls, killing three jumbos on the spot.
The accident occurred just after 5am near Mbizha turn off along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
Witnesses commended the bus driver, Mr Daniel Mapfumo, for managing to control the bus and avoiding hitting trees in the process, as the bus stopped on the side of the road about 50 metres from where the carcasses were.
The news crew visited the accident scene and found scores of villagers from nearby Masikili and Mbizha villages, as well as some from as far as Lupinyu (about 20km away), some from Victoria Falls City, Chikandakubi and Chenamisa already gathered waiting to share the meat.
Some came on bicycles, cars and scotch carts while some boarded public transport from Victoria Falls and police were kept busy controlling the crowd.
Villagers were already skinning the elephants with Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers and police monitoring the situation. The crowd kept swelling and by 11am, there were more than 100 people gathered.
The news crew observed tyre marks showing that the driver applied breaks before swerving to the left to avoid a herd of elephants that had “suddenly” appeared on the road, and then back to the road narrowly missing a tree which is just three metres from the edge of the road, and then to the point when he hit the elephants.
The three carcasses were lying next to each other on the left side of the road.
“I suddenly saw the elephants and applied breaks while swerving to the left.
There were three groups so as I avoided the first, I saw another herd ahead. The three were in the middle of the road and suddenly they turned at once, giving their back to the bus and they were hit at once,” said the driver, Mr Mapfumo.
A witness Mr Arnold Sibanda who was driving behind the bus when the accident occurred, commended Mr Mapfumo’s driving skills.
“It was early in the morning because the bus left Victoria Falls at 5am.
This is a crossing area for elephants and he encountered a large group that was crossing to the direction of the community.
The driver tried to avoid the first herd by swerving to the left.
He narrowly missed a tree and he redirected the bus back to the road,, but there was another herd that was in the middle of the road as it was crossing.
He tried to avoid hitting the second herd, but there was no chance.
The bus hit the three elephants, but the driver worked hard to save lives and controlling the bus until it stopped.
I was driving at 90km per hour behind the bus which means it was traveling at almost the same speed,” said Mr Sibanda.
Village head for Masikili Village one, Mr Lowani George Moyo said while the accident was unfortunate, villagers were happy to get the meat.
Nonetheless, Zanu-PF Hwange District Coordinating Committee chair Cde Matthew Muleya urged drivers to exercise caution especially when driving along the Victoria Falls-Bulawayo road because of the presence of wildlife.
“Animals cross from the national park to communities so drivers should be cautious so that we save lives.
These buses travel at night and we urge them not to speed on this road,” he said.
Passengers were switched to another bus and proceeded with their journey. Police could not immediately comment on the accident.