A light plane carrying diamonds owned by mining giant, Murowa (Private) Limited, which were being transported under armed guard by police and private security officials crash-landed near Beatrice-Chivhu yesterday afternoon.
The Piper 31 Navajo aircraft landed on a field about 16km from Beatrice at around 2.30pm and had five people on board. Police yesterday said no one was killed in the crash, but five people on-board were injured and taken to hospital for treatment.
They were identified as the pilot Zvikomborero Nyamakura of Borrowdale, Murowa Diamonds’ security officer Salfina Karimazondo, Constable Obey Mabvundwi of CID Minerals Flora and Fauna Unit and two security guards from Fawcett Security Company, Petros Chaguruka and Fredrick Maroyi.
Investigations into the cause of the crash are continuing, but there are preliminary indications that the plane could have developed an engine fault. Police said the diamonds, which were being moved from Murowa’s mine in Zvishavane were secured before they were taken to Murowa Diamonds offices in Harare by security guards from Fawcetts.
“We are now working together with officials from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to ascertain the cause of the accident. More details will be released in due course,” said national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi.
CAAZ could not comment on the incident yesterday. In a terse statement, the group corporate affairs executive for Murowa’s parent company, RioZim Limited, Tafadzwa Gova said: A Piper 31 Navajo aircraft owned by RZM Murowa (Private Limited) force-landed in a farm field approximately 16 kilometres from Beatrice on the 13th of February 2023.
“The cause is yet to be ascertained. There were no casualties on board or on the ground. Damage was limited to the aircraft. “There will be a full investigation by the company in conjunction with CAAZ, the regulator.”
The company could not comment on the diamonds consignment or the condition of the injured. Witnesses on the ground said the incident occurred at Muriwai Farm around 2.30 pm and the five were pulled out of the wreckage by locals with the help of the farm owner who rushed them to hospital.
The pilot sustained serious head injuries and is in critical condition, while the other four are in stable condition.
Mr Ishmael Gwaze, who saw the unfolding drama, said he saw the low-flying aircraft which appeared to be preparing to land but was producing a weird sound.
He said the plane’s engines appeared to be stalling and restarting intermittently and it eventually landed on a fire guard. “The plane then sped along the fireguard and the front landing gear snapped and it overturned.
“A person who was nearest to the wreckage rushed to the scene and used a spanner to break the windows. “More people then arrived to help in pulling out the people from the plane,” said Mr Gwaze.
It is understood that just before the plane came down, the pilot, Nyamakura informed the other people on board that the airplane had developed a mechanical fault on its left engine and that he wanted to land safely.
Nyamakura is reported to have decided to land on the farm and appeared to have done a remarkable job until the landing gear gave in, sending the plane spinning on the ground.
The farm owner identified as Mr Gerald Douglas Davison (68) rushed to the scene and took the five to Beatrice Hospital for treatment from where they were later transferred to a medical facility in Harare.