Farai Kuvirimirwa Herald Reporter—
Two Air Force of Zimbabwe officers were killed yesterday afternoon when a training aircraft they were flying, plunged into a squatter settlement next to Charles Prince Airport in Harare. The pair was flying an SF260 trainer aircraft when it nosedived at around noon into Willdale settlement in Mt Hampden, killing them on the spot.
No one on the ground was injured, but unconfirmed reports said some structures were destroyed.
AFZ spokesperson Squadron Leader Simon Matingwina confirmed the incident.
“The names of the deceased are being withheld and will be announced after their next of kin have been advised,” he said.
AFZ commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri said: “We are deeply saddened by the aircraft accident, which has claimed the lives of our officers. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the courageous officers who died in the line of duty.”
Air Marshal Shiri said the cause of the accident would be determined after aircraft accident investigations have been conducted.
An AFZ recovery truck took away the wreckage of the red and white plane before journalists were ordered to vacate by a Civil Aviation Authority officer identified as Willard Makanha.
Police detectives and senior AFZ officers could be seen entering the area that was cordoned off with a yellow warning tape.
AFZ personnel could also be seen collecting the debris of the plane.
Civilians were barred from entering the area including hundreds of residents from the informal settlement who were ordered to vacate the area and stood metres away from their shacks.
A resident of Willdale said she heard a loud bang when the plane crushed close to her residence.
“I had to rush and people were afraid to go and assist. In a few minutes the police arrived and the bodies of the deceased were taken and we were ordered to vacate our houses,” he said.
Zimbabwe will on September 7 this year host the Big African Air show, which will be graced by 20 aerobatic stuntmen from all over the world at Charles Prince Airport.