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2 pilots killed in military jet crash in Gweru, journalists detained for filming



GWERU – An Air Force of Zimbabwe aircraft on a training exercise crashed in Gweru on Tuesday, killing its two pilots.

Two journalists were detained by the military for four hours after taking pictures of the wreckage near the railway interchange at Dabuka.

Eye witnesses said the aircraft, which had taken off from the Thornhill Air Base, now renamed Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base, crashed just after 2PM while attempting to turn back.

One said: “The plane went into a spin and then a dive to the ground, nose first.”

Wreckage of the aircraft showed its landing gear up. The two pilots, named as flight instructor Mkhululi Dube and his female trainee, Silungile Sweswe, died on impact.

Military police arrived at the scene 30 minutes after the crash and cordoned off the area.

Two journalists from The Chronicle and the Masvingo Mirror were detained for four hours after taking pictures of the wreckage. They were freed without charge after being forced to delete their pictures.

Thornhill Air Base is the home of Zimbabwe’s Air Force. Gweru residents are regularly treated to air displays as the next fighter pilots undergo training and others fine-tune their acquired skills.

The type of aircraft involved has not been revealed by the military, which parried media enquiries on Tuesday. But Zimbabwe, a former British colony, still flies British-manufactured military jets which it has not been able to fully service since 2002 when the European Union slapped the country with an arms embargo over human rights abuses. – SOURCE: 

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