PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday described the death of two Air Force of Zimbabwe senior pilots in a plane crash as unexpected, saying the nation had been robbed of experienced and committed officers.
Group Captain Ben Munyanduki and Wing Commander Daniel Manyenga died after their aircraft, that was on a routine training sortie, hit a power line and crashed in the Midlands on Friday last week.
In a condolence message, President Mnangagwa said the AFZ had been robbed of two experienced and dedicated officers.
“The death of two senior officer pilots in a fatal air crash in the Midlands on 3 February 2023, was a heart-wrenching tragedy which robbed our Air Force of Zimbabwe of two of its most experienced cadres whose dedication and loyalty to their country was beyond debate.
“The late Group Captain Ben Munyanduki and Wing Commander Daniel Manyenga ranked among the best in the Air Force of Zimbabwe, and leave behind an indelible career as trainers in the force. I am deeply saddened that such promising officers whose prospects in AFZ were great, have had their lives cut in this sudden, very violent and unexpected way, all in the course of duty.
“Our nation salutes them for their outstanding role in safeguarding Zimbabwe’s air space, and thus its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“They will be sorely missed in the AFZ, and by the many pilots and pilot-cadets who went through their hands,” said the President.
“On behalf of our nation, Government, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, ZDF, my family and on my behalf, I, with a very heavy heart, express my deepest, heartfelt condolences to families of the two deceased senior officers, and to their spouses and children especially.
“In condoling with the families, I urge them to find solace and comfort in that our whole Nation shares in their grief, and joins them in mourning the two officers’ untimely demise. They shall forever remain in our hearts.”
Commander AFZ, Air Marshal Elson Moyo, said a dark cloud has engulfed the AFZ following the crash.
“We have learnt with heavy hearts, of the passing on of two of our pilots after a training accident. Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased pilots.
“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased for this sad loss of AFZ pilots who were on duty and playing their part to ensure that the AFZ fulfils its mandate to defend Zimbabwe’s airspace and territorial integrity,” said Air Marshal Moyo.
A funeral parade in honour of the two decorated officers will be held today at Josiah Tungamirai AFZ base in Gweru.