Air Force of Zimbabwe instructor and a female student pilot died when a training plane they were flying supposedly developed a technical fault and crashed at Dabuka in Somabula on the outskirts of Gweru yesterday.

They were named as instructor and family man Mkhululi Dellen Dube and trainee pilot Silungile Sweswe, both from Bulawayo.

The two were on routine training from Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base when the accident occurred.

A team from the Air Force of Zimbabwe arrived at the scene some minutes after the crash and dispersed villagers who had just gathered before retrieving the bodies.

While dispersing people, air force officials at the scene had detained journalists Elizabeth Mashiri and Patrick Chitumba along with Zimpapers driver who had gone to cover the crash.

They were later released with no charge laid against them around 8PM.

Airforce of Zimbabwe commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo said: “It was with a heavy heart and a deep sense of sorrow that I learnt of the aircraft accident that claimed the lives of our pilots.

“On behalf of the Airforce of Zimbabwe, officers and members and indeed on my behalf, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of Squadron Leader Dube and Officer Cadet Sweswe.”

He said the Airforce of Zimbabwe was robbed of a proficient pilot in Squadron Leader Dube and a dedicated trainee pilot.

“While the Airforce of Zimbabwe is mourning, it is also a moment to reflect and recognise the sacrifices and dedication of the deceased pilots.

“The AFZ will forever cherish their commitment to excellence in training and unwavering dedication to duty,” said Air Marshal Moyo.