On a chilly Wednesday afternoon, Ms Memory Maremo, was busy doing laundry near her shack in the Willdale Compound near Mt Hampden in Harare.

From a distance, she could hear buzzing sounds of light aircraft, which have been part and parcel of her everyday life.

She was engrossed in her laundry and was unconcerned with the noise that was coming from a nearby airfield, Charles Prince Airport.

Occasionally, she would throw a glance to the next shack and engage in a conversation with her neighbour, Madzimai Mercy.

Madzimai Mercy was basking in the sun and entertaining her (Maremo) while her two-year-old son was standing by the door of her one-roomed shack.

Ms Maremo decided to borrow a brush from another neighbour to wash her tennis shoes. While manoeuvring past the makeshift grass bathroom, she heard a loud buzz followed by a loud thud behind her. She took to her heels for some distance before stopping to investigate.

She saw a strange metallic red and white object right a metre or so from where she was washing her clothes.

At that same time Madzimai Mercy, shell shocked, was holding her son standing behind her shack.

Panic and fear gripped her as she discovered that her belongings were nowhere to be seen and the whole corridor was engulfed in a thick cloud of smoke and dust.

While in shock, people started gathering at the scene and as usual, different explanations started emerging.

That is what happened when the SF260 Air Force of Zimbabwe trainer plane, crashed into the Willdale squatter settlement, 30 metres outside the Charles Prince Airport perimeter fence.

Two airmen, Squadron Leader Taurai Jombo (36) and Air Lieutenant Evidence Edzai Begede (28), were killed on the spot.

Squadron Leader Jombo joined AFZ in 1999, while Air Lieutenant Begede joined in 2007.

Fortunately, no one from the crowded compound was killed or injured, save for a few shacks that were destroyed.

When the news crew visited the crash site yesterday, children could be seen running away when four helicopters hovered around.

In an interview, Memory said she was still shocked as she missed death by a whisker.

"I wanted to collect a brush from a friend who stays four shacks away and a loud noise came and hit just where I was washing my clothes. God intervened and I could have died. My neighbours were indoors and only came out after the large bang. The entire place was filled with smelly thick smoke from oil and fuel, which was choking. I had to come back (to the crash site) because I wanted to collect my cellphone so that I could inform my brother. There was a chunk of human flesh inside my house with blood splashed on the door and walls," she said.

Memory said the atmosphere was characterised with a gory sight as one of the pilots was dangling from a makeshift grass bathroom. She said she was still traumatised and each time a plane ascends, she went out to see where it would be going until it lands.

"We did not sleep well yesterday as dogs could be heard howling at each other where the plane landed and children are playing around the place. I am contemplating moving away from the area because no one knows what will happen next," she said.

The crash of the Air Force plane has brought to the fore the safety of people in the compound near the airport.

But Memory says she has nowhere to go and circumstances have forced her to seek refuge at the illegal compound.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe general manager Mr David Chawota said people should not reside close to runways and aerodromes.

"It is not advisable for people to stay there because there are dangers associated with that hence you see people who work in aerodromes and airports have protective measures. Settling near the airports exposes them to both noise and pollution and other dangers associated with incidents of emergencies.

"The minimum distance they can stay away from such a place differs and sometimes it can be seven kilometres but there are formulas used to calculate that distance depending on the size of the airstrip," said Mr Chawota.

AFZ spokesperson Squadron Leader Simon Matingwina said the accident claimed the lives of two air officers who were part of a formation carrying out rehearsals for the Big African Air Show.

The air show will be held tomorrow at Charles Prince Airport.

He said Squadron Leader Jombo is survived by his wife, Ennie Rumbidzai Jombo, and two children.

Mourners are gathered at Manyame Air Base Block 3 Number 1, AF90 Flats. Air Lieutenant Begede has left behind a wife, Laura Begede and one child and mourners are gathered at Thornhill Air Force Base Block A Flats.

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