Smart Ex­press bus driver twice de­nied bail

The Manica Post - - Local News - Tendai Guku­tikwa Post Cor­re­spon­dent

AFTER two un­suc­cess­ful bail ap­pli­ca­tions at Rusape Mag­is­trates’ court, the Smart Ex­press bus driver’s lawyer has sub­mit­ted a fresh ap­pli­ca­tion at the Mutare High Court.

The bus driver, Cos­mos Muno­tyei Marembo (50) is be­ing ac­cused of caus­ing the Rusape bus ac­ci­dent in Novem­ber, which killed 46 peo­ple and left dozens oth­ers in­jured.

He has been in cus­tody since sur­ren­der­ing to the po­lice on Novem­ber 8, two days after a man­hunt had been launched for him. Marembo is be­ing rep­re­sented by coun­sel Cos­mas Chibaya of Chibaya and Part­ners Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers.

In the ap­pli­ca­tion, Mr Chibaya ar­gued that his client was a suit­able can­di­date for bail, as he was also in­jured dur­ing the ac­ci­dent and was still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pain in the chest and neck. He stated that Marembo needed med­i­cal at­ten­tion, par­tic­u­larly an X-ray to check if he had no se­ri­ous in­ter­nal in­juries.

It was also in the ap­pli­ca­tion that Marembo was not a flight risk as the State would al­lege as he re­sides at Marembo vil­lage un­der Chief Mudz­imuirema in Chi­hota and that he should be or­dered to re­side there un­til the mat­ter was fi­nalised.

Mr Chibaya fur­ther pro­posed that Marembo be or­dered to fork out $500 in bail and that he re­ports twice weekly at Mahusekwa Po­lice Sta­tion. He also ar­gued that by flee­ing from the scene, Marembo had not turned fugi­tive, as he later turned him­self to the po­lice.

The State is yet to re­spond to the bail ap­pli­ca­tion.

Marembo is be­ing charged with one con­tra­ven­ing Sec­tion 49 of the Crim­i­nal Law (Cod­i­fi­ca­tion and Re­form) Act Chap­ter 9:23, and sec­tions 70 (2) and 70 (5) of the Road Traf­fic Act, which is one cul­pa­ble homi­cide charge and fail­ure to re­port an ac­ci­dent within 24 hours as well as stop and of­fer as­sis­tance at an ac­ci­dent scene.

The mat­ter re­cently ap­peared be­fore Rusape Mag­is­trate, Mr Gift Manyika who de­nied Marembo bail on the ba­sis that he is fac­ing se­ri­ous of­fenses and is a flight risk as he is of no fixed abode. He also stated that be­cause he had fled from the scene and only turned him­self in after a man­hunt had been launched, he was likely to ab­scond court and prob­a­bly cross into neigh­bour­ing coun­tries be­cause of fear of prose­cu­tion.

He also cited Marembo’s safety say­ing he was way safer in cus­tody than out of cus­tody as a lot of lives were lost on the fate­ful day and some rel­a­tives might want to take re­venge on him.

Al­le­ga­tions are that on Novem­ber 7, Marembo who was driv­ing a Higer bus, reg­is­tra­tion ABO 2730, which be­longed to Smart Ex­press bus com­pany at­tempted to over­take on pro­hib­ited dou­ble white lines at the 162km peg along Harare-Mutare road, was in­volved in a sideswipe ac­ci­dent with Temba Sorota (now de­ceased), who was driv­ing a Zhong Tong bus, which be­longs to Bolt Cut­ter com­ing from Harare. This re­sulted in the death of 46 pas­sen­gers and the in­jury of 59 oth­ers.

“Bail is your right ac­cord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion but not an ab­so­lute right, as it can be lim­ited con­sid­er­ing rea­sons given by the state. The ac­cused is a flight risk who soon after the ac­ci­dent, fled from the scene. The de­fence coun­sel said he did not flee but just re­moved him­self from the scene and later went to po­lice after two days. Why did he re­move him­self from the scene?

“The ac­ci­dent was a hor­rific one and was de­clared a na­tional dis­as­ter. The pub­lic will lose con­fi­dence in the jus­tice sys­tem if the ac­cused is freed on bail. This ac­ci­dent is a sen­si­tive one and for your own safety you will not be granted bail. Many peo­ple are emo­tion­ally at­tached to this case.”

The mat­ter was ad­journed to a later date for trial.

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