Villagers recount horror Mashava plane crash
George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Villagers in the Zvamahande area of Mashava under Chief Bere in Masvingo yesterday gave harrowing accounts of the plane crash that occurred in their area in the morning, claiming all the six passengers on board.
The Murowa Diamond Company-owned Cessna plane crashed around 8am.
Murowa Diamond Company is owned by Rio Zim, which owns Murowa gem mine in Zvishavane.
According to the police, the red and white Cessna Zcam aircraft was bound for Murowa in Zvishavane when it crashed about 6km out of Mashava town.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi in statement last night said out of the six plane crash victims in Zvamahande, four were foreign nationals while two were Zimbabweans.
He said the plane had left Harare around 6am before it crashed near Mashava while heading to Murowa Mine.
‘’The Zimbabwe Republic Police reports a plane crash which occurred on 29 September 2023 between 07:30hours and 08:00hrs where six people are confirmed dead,’’ he said.
‘’The Murowa Diamond Company (Rio Zim) owned white and red Zcam aircraft had left Harare for the mine at 0600 hours and crashed about six kilometres from Mashava. The victims are two Zimbabweans and four foreign nationals.’’
Asst Comm Nyathi said more information about the horror crash was going to be released in due course.
In a statement yesterday, RioZim confirmed the crash and said they were working with relevant authorities to gather more information.
“We shall share fuller details with all relevant stakeholders once the next of kin have been notified. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families devastated by this tragedy,” said Tafadzwa Gova, the group corporate affairs executive.
Stunned villagers from around Zvamahande and Mashava gathered at the crash site as law enforcement agents led by police Officer Commanding Masvingo province (Operations) Assistant Commissioner Florence Marume and members of the Masvingo City Council Fire Brigade sifted through the plane’s wreckage to recover dismembered human body parts.
Some of the brave villagers helped police to locate some of the body parts that were strewn within a 20-metre radius of the crash site where the main wreckage of the mangled Cessna light aircraft lay in ruins.
It was a gory sight even for the brave to see some body parts, including internal organs, hanging precariously on thorny shrubbery at the crash site.
Police cordoned off the area to make sure all body parts of the victims and the wreckage were not tampered with to allow the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe investigators to find all leads intact.
When The Herald arrived at the crash site just before 10am, shocked villagers were still trooping to the crash site.
Assistant Commissioner Marume and other law enforcement agents had successfully managed to recover the plane flight fitness certificate dated 16 September and six pairs of safety shoes believed to have been worn by the six passengers and crew.
The Masvingo Fire Brigade played an important role in retrieving some of the dismembered body parts that were trapped inside the mangled wreckage of the plane.
Police later on managed to recover all the body parts from the crash site with the help of some villagers.
Eyewitness said they suspected the plane developed a mechanical fault while airborne when it was above the Zvamahande area.
Mr Elias Bvudzo (42) of Lochinvar A, village Tichagwa under Chief Bere, who was the first to arrive at the crash site, said he noticed something was amiss while the plane was still airborne.
“I was on my way to morning prayers just before 8am when I saw the plane coming from the north east direction,” he said. “It was making a strange loud noise that we are not used to hear when planes pass through this area and it crossed my mind that something was wrong mechanically.
“Within minutes, the plane started circling at the same place and then crashed.
“I rushed to the crash site only to discover that all the persons inside had died. I phoned other villagers since there was nothing that I could do.’’
Mr Bvudzo said he suspected that the plane might have broken into pieces before crashing to the ground, judging by the loud sound that he heard while it was airborne.
Prince Ncube (20) of Zavidze village under Chief Bere confirmed hearing the strange noise from the plane before it crashed.
‘’I was sleeping around 7.30am when I heard a strange noise from the plane that was overhead, a short distance from our homestead, but I just ignored it and continued with my sleep only to be woken up by noise from neighbours who were saying there had been a plane crash,” he said.
“I rushed to the crash site with others, but what we saw was true horror. I have never seen such a gory sight in my life. I noticed that there had been no survivor from the plane as some human body parts hung on tree branches and shrubs.
“These gory images will take long to be erased from my memory.’’
Mr Garikai Kuuya (43) of Mukonde, Village 21 in Masvingo West, said after getting to the crash site and having noticed how dismembered human body parts were all over the place, he made efforts to alert community leaders from around the area.
‘’I arrived at the crash site about 15 minutes after the plane had fallen down and upon discovering that there were no survivors we sent word that villagers must secure their dogs so that they did not stray to the crash site and surrounding areas while efforts were still underway to locate all the body parts,’’ he said.
Ward 33 Councillor Cde Tawanda Dube said he was phoned by witnesses to come to the crash site and he arrived to discover that there had not been a single survivor from the crash.
‘’When I arrived I realised all the people on board the plane had died and we then phoned the police to attend the scene,” he said.
“This tragic plane crash will take long to be erased from our memories. ‘’