By JANE FIELDS
A VIDEO has emerged showing the agonising last moments of one of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s motorcade outriders who was killed in a horrific Harare crash last week.
The 20-second video showed the lead biker of the presidential convoy dying in a ball of fire moments after he slammed into a lorry in the capital last Wednesday. The Zimbabwe president, 88, appears to have already sped on past, leaving the police officer in agony by the side of the road.
It was uploaded to YouTube, but last night had been withdrawn as its contents were deemed too explicit – however, it had already been viewed by many Zimbabweans.
The fatal crash was the latest in a chain of deadly accidents involving the presidential convoy – and the video illustrates the heartlessness of the brutal Mugabe regime.
Shot by an eyewitness, it showed the officer lying on the ground close to his burning bike – but still breathing, according to the privately-owned Daily News. Then flames from his fuel tank engulf him.
“We tried to pull his body away from the bike but we failed because of the heat and then the motorbike started leaking fuel forcing us to retreat,” an eyewitness told the paper. Several motorists tried to use the small fire extinguishers they are required by law to carry in their vehicles – but without success.
“As witnesses watched helplessly as the cop lost his battle to live, some sobbed openly, overcome by emotion,” the Daily News said. Witnesses said that the ambulance that follows Mugabe’s motorcade did eventually stop but its driver did nothing to help. “The ambulance guy just came and stood there: it was so sad to watch because this guy could easily have been saved,” a bystander said.
The president, who is one of Africa’s longest-surviving rulers, was reportedly on his way into the city centre from his plush Chinese-pagoda style mansion in Harare’s Borrowdale suburb when the crash happened at around 10am. Because of his age and failing health, Mugabe is not able to start his day any earlier – and even then he regularly falls asleep in crucial meetings, according to opposition politicians.
Terrified of assassination, the president never moves anywhere without his convoy, a procession of bikes, state security vehicles, limousines and trucks full of armed soldiers that speeds along the pot-holed roads of the southern African country, striking fear into the hearts of locals who have to get off the road as soon as they hear the sirens wailing. Mugabe’s motorcade had already been involved in three accidents this year: in June, it ran over and killed a homeless man.
Mugabe’s office has made no comment on the biker’s death nor on the video footage, which has been widely commented on online by Zimbabweans. Former journalist Gibson Nyambayo tweeted: “I think the reason he [Mugabe] has many bodyguards is fear of death but he let him die.” Some reports claimed this was the 13th outrider to die in the motorcade since Mugabe came to power in 1980.
Official media said the motorcade was not supposed to stop until it reached its destination. The state-run Herald, which is controlled by Mugabe’s spokesman, said: “All Zimbabweans who learn how to drive are aware that the law requires them to give precedence to the presidential motorcade.”