HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s outrider who met a painful death as he engulfed in flames on Wednesday could have been saved as he was breathing when the motorcade zoomed past his smoking body, to the chagrin of onlookers.
The Daily News saw video footage of the horror crash and the footage leaves even the steel-hearted shell-shocked. Eyewitnesses shot the video.
Just before 10am on the fateful day, Mugabe’s lengthy convoy made its way to the city centre from his residence in Harare’s leafy suburb of Borrowdale, led as usual, by the siren-blaring outriders.
However, one of the pacesetting outriders failed to make it into the city as the motorbike caught fire at the intersection of Borrowdale and Garth roads. The video footage seen by the Daily News is gory and captures the last moments of the cop.
In agony and breathing heavily, the biker battled for dear life as the motorbike which was lying by his side was consumed by a raging fire. He was consumed by the fire moments later. Efforts to get the name of the deceased cop from police spokesperson Charity Charamba were futile yesterday.
Attempts by civilians to save him were futile. Some motorists can be seen pulling out fire extinguishers which every vehicle is now required to have by law in the video. But the light-duty extinguishers were no match for the inferno which was stoked by petrol leaking from the accident-damaged BMW bike.
The injured cop was writhing in pain and that was before he caught fire. At least 10 fire extinguisher canisters were emptied by motorists who stopped to help but failed to put out the inferno.
So intense was the heat from the combustion that the fire easily spread to nearby pine trees that canopy Borrowdale Road close to the up market Sam Levy’s Village. Witnesses said although the outrider’s right side was severely injured with bones exposed, he could have been saved had he received immediate attention from experts.
“We tried to pull his body away from the bike but we failed because of the heat and then the motorbike started to leak petrol forcing us to retreat further from the body,” said one witness.
But Mugabe and his entourage swept past the accident scene while the biker was charred to death moments later as petrified witnesses looked on helplessly. For security reasons, the motorcade is not supposed to stop until it reaches its destination.
As witnesses watched helplessly as the cop lost his battle to live, some sobbed openly, overcome by emotion. A white couple was traumatised with the death. After Mugabe’s fleet had passed, an ambulance which traditionally tails the convoy stopped. But the driver could not assist the outrider.
“The ambulance guy just came and stood there; he did not do anything and did not even have a blanket. It was so sad to watch because this guy could have been easily saved,” said a witness.
This week’s accident is the fourth in as many months. In June a police lead vehicle sent to clear traffic rammed into a commuter minibus carrying 22 passengers. A male passenger in the minibus died on impact with the police Mercedes while 15 others — including two police officers — were injured.
On another trip to Zvimba in the same month, the presidential convoy was involved in two accidents. In the first crash, a homeless man was knocked down by a police motorbike in Harare. The police outrider and the victim were both hospitalised with the vagrant later dying.
As the convoy left Kutama on the return journey, an open-top army Land Cruiser carrying members of the presidential guard burst a tyre and overturned, killing Jeoffrey Mukotekwa and wounding several others. On all occasions, police blamed negligent motorists accusing the public of ignoring police signals.