ANGRY residents stoned a pirate taxi belonging to an unlicensed Gwanda police officer after he hit and killed a child crossing a busy road at Phakama shopping centre on Saturday evening.
Report by Albert Ncube
Emotions reached boiling point when shoppers discovered that the child’s head had been crushed leaving the brains scattered by the roadside.
The toddler died on the spot and instant justice was meted out on the police officer identified as Sergeant Felix Matare, who was behind the wheel of the Toyota Regius vehicle.
A senior police officer was also rushed to hospital after he was hit with a stone on the head, as he tried to persuade the angry crowd to clear the scene of the accident.
Eyewitness said the vehicle had been speeding, although the driver alleged something had hit his eye, temporarily blinding him leading to the accident.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the shopping centre, as the child’s mother held the lifeless body in her arms while crying uncontrollably.
Shoppers were incensed after a traffic police officer tried to drive the vehicle away from the accident scene resulting in angry residents smashing the car’s windows.
“These police officers want to cover up for each other. We are tired of this corruption and surprisingly Matare has been pirating with this taxi for a long time without a licence,” an angry resident shouted, as he stood in front of the vehicle so it could not be driven away.
Matare allegedly plies the Gwanda-West Nicholson route and many have been left wondering how he has evaded arrest for so long, as four roadblocks are mounted daily on the 40km-long route.
He is likely to be charged with culpable homicide or driving without a licence and due care.
Suspended Gwanda mayor and Ward 10 councillor Lionel De Necker said it was disturbing that police officers were becoming accustomed to breaking the law, which they should instead uphold.
“One wonders how a police officer with a motorcycle licence is allowed to drive a car.
“The conflict that arose after the accident does not augur well for the community relations, but it could have been avoided had Matare observed basic traffic regulations,” he said.
A Gwanda police spokesmen said they could only comment on the matter today.
A number of police officers have in recent days found themselves in trouble with the law in the Matabeleland South capital, as some of them do not have the required licences and documentation for their vehicles.
Another police officer based in Gwanda, Constable Wilson Mtanzwa was recently fined $300 for driving without a licence, while charges of driving without due care and attention are still being pursued by the courts after he ran over a pedestrian.
Many police officers have resorted to “pirating” to augment their salaries.
Residents have urged the government to immediately ban the Japan-manufactured second-hand vehicles from being used for public transport.