TWO witnesses in the case involving an unlicensed driver charged with causing the deaths of 10 people when the truck he was driving overturned while heading to a political rally in Nyamandlovu on July 28 2013, told the court that Zanu PF youths had threatened to deal with villagers who skipped the rally.
Dumisani Sibanda (48), who was employed as a tractor driver at Mandalay Farm in Umguza, is denying charges of culpable homicide and that of driving without a licence arguing that Zanu PF youths forced him to drive the truck even after he informed them he had no licence.
Two witnesses Bwanali Rams and Emson Mhundizi Sithole backed Sibanda’s claims before Lupane magistrate Aelene Munamati on Friday saying the situation was tense on the fateful day with Zanu PF youths threatening to deal with villagers who failed to attend the rally that was addressed by Umguza MP Obert Mpofu.
Judgment in the case is expected today.
Rams told the court that he saw one of the Zanu PF youths who had made threats in the truck being driven by Sibanda when it was about to leave Mandalay Farm.
He said the youth was among those sticking Mpofu’s posters on vehicles on the day in question.
Rams said the situation was tense and it would have been risky for Sibanda to refuse to drive the truck.
“The situation was tense; the youths were sticking Mpofu’s posters on the truck and there was nothing for you to do,” Rams said.
“One of the youth members remained in the truck and was still carrying some posters.”
Rams said Sibanda’s life would have been under threat had he refused to follow the youths’ orders on that particular day.
Sithole also backed Rams’ testimony saying the youths had issued serious threats declaring that they wanted to see who would not attend the rally vowing to deal with such people.
In his defence Sibanda said he would not have driven the truck, but did so because he feared for his life due to serious threats issued by Zanu PF youths.
Sibanda said menacing Zanu PF youths allegedly forced him to drive the truck even after he had informed them that he was not licensed to drive that type of vehicle.
Sibanda lost control of the truck on a steep ascent and it overturned landing on its roof and trapping some passengers underneath it. Seven passengers died on the spot and three others died on admission at Mpilo Central Hospital while 60 others were seriously injured.
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