A FAIRYTALE boot camp for the 2019 Miss Tourism Zimbabwe national finalists almost ended in tragedy on Wednesday evening after the bus the models were travelling in veered off the road and landed on its side, injuring 10 models. The bus was carrying 19 models and eight officials.

The national finals, which were scheduled for this Saturday at Montclair Hotel, have since been postponed. Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tavhiringwa Kakohwa said  the accident happened around 9pm along the Mutare-Vumba Road.

“The driver, Innocent Pundo, was driving along the road with 27 passengers on board. When approaching the 18km peg, and upon descending, he lost control of the bus and it veered off the road. It overturned and landed on its left side. Ten people were injured and were ferried to Murambi Gardens Clinic where they were admitted,” he said.

The names of those injured are Pauline Marire (35), Prudence Chibvuri (28), Marria Makelve (22), Wendy Maturi (23), Michelle Mukwati (21), Maurine Gondwe (24), Rutendo Mafuratidze (24), Rutendo Taruvinga (23), Monalisa Tafirenyika (22) and Grace Karimupfumbi (22).

In a press statement, Miss Tourism Zimbabwe said: “The girls are naturally still in shock but stable and recovering. We are just waiting for the doctors to give their assessment of their conditions, so we won’t comment further. In light of the above, the finals which were set for this Saturday have been postponed to a date and venue to be advised.”

The finalists, who were accompanied by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Miss Tourism Zimbabwe officials, were on their way to Eden Lodge where they were scheduled to spend the night.

Miss Tourism Manicaland licence holder Mrs Carol Marufu-Buwu said it was not yet clear if the pageant would go ahead.

“The girls have been under observation and are stable. There are some injuries but no death has been recorded. We believe they were all affected including those who are not physically injured. It is sad that such an unfortunate thing happened. However, we thank God that the accident was not fatal.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the models were scheduled to proceed to Chimanimani to visit Cyclone Idai-affected areas but could not proceed due to bad weather. When the Manica Post visited the scene on Thursday, there were skid marks a few metres before the scene. Water bottles and small bags were strewn all over. A villager, Mr Aleck Maunze, who arrived at the scene shortly after the accident, said the models were screaming in fear, panic and pain.

“This is a very dangerous road and it is most likely that the driver lost control following brake failure. They were saved by a tree which was by the roadside otherwise if it wasn’t for that it could have been another story.

“I, together with my friend Decide, had to assist the passengers come out,” he said.

Speaking a few hours after the accident, the driver said he lost control of the vehicle after the bus’ brakes failed.

“I tried my best. The bus developed brake failure and I had to try hard to control it. The bus was descending which led it to increase the speed. I am lucky to be alive. It could have been worse,” he said.

state media