Cops blamed for Grey­hound driver death

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Bianca Mlilo

THE fam­ily of a driver who on Fri­day was crushed to death by a Bu­l­awayo-bound Grey­hound bus have al­leged off-duty po­lice of­fi­cers who mounted an il­le­gal road­block caused his death.

Yes­ter­day they told The Chronicle that the five po­lice of­fi­cers fled af­ter re­al­is­ing Mr Bon­gani Mpofu (44) had been mor­tally wounded when the bus went down on him as he at­tended to a tyre punc­ture at Beit­bridge Bor­der Post.

Of­fi­cials said the tragedy oc­curred at around 1PM when the of­fi­cers were search­ing the bus.

The driver was trapped as he at­tempted to put a sec­ond ve­hi­cle jack, when the first one gave in.

Bor­der au­thor­i­ties said the driver was later pulled out by some trav­ellers and taken to Beit­bridge Dis­trict Hos­pi­tal where he was pro­nounced dead upon ad­mis­sion.

The Chronicle yes­ter­day caught up with Mpofu’s broth­ers, Thembelani and Mbam­beleli, who are an­gry at the cir­cum­stances that led to the death of their sibling.

“We’ve es­tab­lished that the bus had gone through im­mi­gra­tion pro­ce­dures and had ex­ited the bor­der when a group of men in plain clothes ma­te­ri­alised from the blue and or­dered the bus to pull over,” said Mbam­beleli.

“We’re told that my brother told them that com­pany pol­icy didn’t al­low them to park in such small spa­ces and they threat­ened to ar­rest him. They de­manded to search the bus. My brother and his as­sis­tant first protested say­ing Zimra of­fi­cials had al­ready searched the bus. Later, they said they could al­low the cops to search the ve­hi­cle only if a larger space was avail­able for them to prop­erly park the bus. The po­lice of­fi­cers or­dered them to head back to the bor­der.”

Mbam­beleli said the cops or­dered Mpofu to park the bus near a truck stop within the bor­der perime­ter fence.

“The po­lice en­tered the bus and searched it, pur­port­edly look­ing for smug­gled goods which they failed to find. It was dur­ing the search that my brother no­ticed that the bus had a punc­ture be­cause it had been parked on top of pro­trud­ing metals,” he said.

Af­ter fail­ing to find the sus­pected smug­gled goods, said Thembelani, the of­fi­cers switched goal­posts and said they must have picked the wrong bus.

It was at that point, Thembelani added, that Bon­gani went un­der the bus to at­tend to the punc­ture and was crushed.

“The po­lice of­fi­cers im­me­di­ately fled the scene. They didn’t even at­tempt to re­move him from un­der the bus,” he said.

He said of­fi­cials at the bor­der in­formed the fam­ily the cops were gen­uine of­fi­cers but were al­legedly off­duty when they car­ried out the search.

The two broth­ers said if what they said was an il­le­gal road­block had not been mounted, their brother would still be alive.

Mata­bele­land South po­lice spokesper­son In­spec­tor Philisani Nde­bele said he was not aware of the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Mpofu’s death.

“We haven’t re­ceived com­mu­ni­ca­tion on that. We don’t have those de­tails. I’d urge the com­pany and the rel­a­tives to ap­proach the po­lice re­gard­ing this mat­ter so we can in­ves­ti­gate,” he said.

A Grey­hound of­fi­cial yes­ter­day said the com­pany was ex­plor­ing ways to pur­sue the case with the po­lice, with­out caus­ing fric­tion.

Mpofu is sur­vived by wife, Nomsa and chil­dren Bongile (10), Buy­isile (6) and Buzile (3). It is an­tic­i­pated that he will be buried to­mor­row.

His fam­ily says it is poorer with­out him as he was its bread­win­ner, role model and fa­ther fig­ure.

Mpofu’s close friend Ad­mire Sibanda said: “He was a hard­work­ing, ded­i­cated fam­ily man, a good leader and ad­vi­sor to all that crossed his path. It is both sur­pris­ing and sad that such a great man is no more.” — @Bian­caMlilo

The late Bon­gani Mpofu

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