Onlookers stand near the wreckage of a light aircraft that crashed in a township of the Zimbabwe capital, Harare, October 18, 2003. A light aircraft crashed in the Harare township of Kuwadzana killing three people on board and one on the ground, police said. REUTERS/Paul Cadenhead PC/JV

Looking Back

The Sunday Mail, 19 October 2003

FOUR people were killed and three others seriously injured when a Kariba-bound private plane crashed and extensively damaged two houses in Kuwadzana 5 suburb in Harare yesterday morning.

The four-seater light Beech Baron aircraft crashed into the suburb three minutes after take-off from Harare International Airport just after picking its direction to Kariba.

Two of the deceased were positively identified as Derry Johns Phillips and Renny Elizabeth Cathleen.

Read: Four People Perish In Kombi Accident In Mvurwi

Of the deceased, three were passengers while the fourth was a vendor strolling along the street.

The vendor was moving from house-to-house, buying empty bottles.

Among the survivors was a two-year-old boy, Anesu Dzvinamurungu, who is said to have been sitting at the veranda of one of the houses, but was discovered in the wreckage unscathed. The boy was visibly traumatised.

Hundreds of shocked residents of the suburb thronged the scene of the accident soon after the crash.

Rescue operations started before the police arrived with two good Samaritans, Mr Alton Zhou Mukaka and Mr Brandy Mazinyane, removing the bodies of Cathleen and Phillips.

According to Mr Mukaka, Cathleen was semi-conscious when he retrieved her from the wreckage but died soon afterwards. “I am traumatised by the ordeal,” he said. Mr Mukaka said Cathleen died in his arms.

Lessons for today

Zimbabwe’s air safety is a source of pride, although it has had its fair share of crashes of small aircraft in the past 40 years.

Kuwadzana is a high-density suburb in Harare, with a large population. The deadly plane crash could have claimed many lives and destroyed lots of property.

Some of the plane crashes Zimbabwe has witnessed in the past 20 years are:

1. In November 2018, a Cessna light aircraft en route to Victoria Falls from Buffalo Range crashed near Renco Mine killing four Finnish tourists and the pilot.

2. In March 2017, six people travelling in an eight-seater plane perished in the Vumba mountains crash. Four of the deceased were directors of a Beira-headquartered company – Green Motor Services.

3. In March 2017, three people escaped unhurt after a private charter plane, crash-landed at the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport.

4. In April 2015, an Air Force of Zimbabwe plane crash-landed in Gweru, but the two AFZ pilots survived the crash.

5. In January 2012, a pilot escaped with minor injuries after the light aircraft he was in crash landed at Wakefield Farm.

6. In 2010, a pilot and his passenger were seriously injured when their six-seater crash landed at a school, soon after take-off at Charles Prince Airport.

7. Four family members perished in a Zvishavane light aircraft crash in 2005.

According to one website, “many aviation accidents are caused when pilots misread flight equipment, misjudge weather conditions or fail to properly address mechanical errors”.

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