A top Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) officer has been discharged over his role in an aircraft accident that killed two experienced pilots on 02 February this year.
The AFZ SF260 trainer aircraft flew into electric lines as it struggled to gain height shortly after take-off near Mlezu College in Kwekwe.
Group Captain Bensen Munyanduki, 50, and Wing Commander Daniel Manyenga, 37, died in the accident.
Air Commodore Marcelino Jakuvos Jaya, the Base Commander of the former Thornhill Air Base in Gweru, now Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base, has left the Air Force in disgrace over the accident.
Jaya reportedly gave the instruction to the two pilots to fly the stricken aircraft. Zimlive quoted a military source as saying:
"A tribunal found that after the aircraft first crash-landed, Air Commodore Jaya was given specific instructions by AFZ Commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo to put the aircraft on a low-bed truck and take it to the air base.
Instead, Jaya ignored a lawful instruction and decided to send our best two pilots on a doomed mission to fly an aircraft that had not been properly assessed by engineers after the earlier incident when it crash-landed.
The aircraft failed to pick up height leading to the tragic deaths of the two pilots."
ZimLive reported that the SF260 first flew on a training mission to Zvishavane with different pilots.
When the pilots were returning to Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base, they flew into bad weather and were forced to crash-land the aircraft on a dusty road.
AFZ then sent a recovery mission and the two pilots, who had no serious injuries, were transported to the hospital for assessment.
According to Zimlive's military sources, Air Commodore Jaya ignored instructions from senior officers to recover the aircraft with a truck.
He, instead, instructed Munyanduki and Manyenga to fly the aircraft back to base.
The plane tragically crashed shortly after take-off, robbing the Air Force of two of its experienced pilots.