By BRIAN HATYOKA -
TWO Zambia Air Force (ZAF) officers have died after their FA 528 SAB aircraft yesterday crashed in Livingstone.
The accident occurred around 12:00 hours near Kabanje Bwiketo Village, located less than a kilometre off the Zimba-Livingstone Road and about 40 kilometres from Livingstone town centre.
No-one was injured despite the plane crashing at an area surrounded by village huts.
A Times of Zambia team that rushed to the scene found a combined team of ZAF officers, Zambia Police officers and Livingstone Fire Brigade trying to retrieve the two bodies from the mangled plane.
The officers cordoned off the accident scene and barred journalists from taking pictures of the wreckage while villagers and other residents watched the happenings from a distance.
Later in the afternoon, another ZAF plane took some officers to the accident scene.
Southern Province Commissioner of Police Charity Katanga, who was present at the crash site, confirmed the death of two ZAF officers in an interview.
“We received information around 12:00 hours that there was a plane crash in Kabanje Bwiketo Village.
“Police and Livingstone Fire Brigade officers rushed to the scene and found that it was a ZAF plane which had crashed,” Ms Katanga said.
She could not reveal the names of the two ZAF officers who died until their families had been notified.
“I suspect the accident could have happened when the two officers were doing their routine work.
“However, I cannot confirm what could have caused the accident and only ZAF can determine what transpired,” Ms Katanga said.
She said the bodies of the two officers were retrieved and would be taken to the mortuary according to ZAF procedures.
Some Kabanje Bwiketo Village marketeers who witnessed the accident said they saw the plane spin several times before it crashed with a huge bang.
“The plane was rolling from above, and then it went down slightly above Bwiketo Community School before it hit the ground with a loud sound.
“We then went near it and there was no sign of people inside it, then we told other villages not to touch the plane until ZAF officers came,” one villager said.
A local farmer, Witika Siamabulu said he also saw the plane fly above his farm between 12:00 hours and 13:00 hours before it crashed.