A pilot died on the spot after a helicopter crashed in the Mhondoro area on Sunday afternoon, in what has been described as a horrific experience by eyewitnesses who said they were yet to overcome the shock.
The cause of the crash is not yet known, but eyewitnesses yesterday said they saw the helicopter flying low from the Mupfure River direction, heading towards Harare, before it crashed on a mountain.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the crash.
He said the deceased pilot was flying an R44 helicopter, adding that indications so far showed that the helicopter was a private one.
When our news crew visited the area yesterday in Lothin Farm popularly known as kwaJojo in Mhondoro-Chivero, the wreckage of the helicopter was still in the mountain where it crashed, a stone’s throw away from a homestead.
Two police officers were guarding the wreckage, with some pieces from the wings seen hanging on a tree about 10 metres away.
An eyewitness, Mr Musekiwa Mapunde said: “It seemed as if the pilot wanted to fly past trees in the mountain but failed, resulting in the helicopter hitting a tree branch and within seconds, we heard a loud bang.
“The sound of the helicopter was just like that of small planes. I then rushed from my homestead as the helicopter had crashed near my neighbour’s compound.”
Mr Mapunde said he then met eight other villagers who directed them to the exact site of the crash in the mountain.
“We then discovered that the helicopter had crashed with wreckage all over the place, we tried to save the life of the pilot, but it was too late as he was dead. Within minutes, a neighbourhood officer arrived and managed to get in touch with the police who then attended the scene,” said Mr Mapunde.
Mr Elson Mangani, whose homestead is the nearest to the crash scene, said his family escaped death by a whisker.
“I was inside my house and only heard the sound of the helicopter which was clear that it was flying low.
“I was not taken aback since planes usually pass through the area. There was my son outside who witnessed the plane crashing and shouted while seeking protection.
“At that moment I then rushed outside only to witness pieces of the helicopter hanging on trees in the mountain and its sound when crashing,” he said.
Another witness, Mrs Elizabeth Kacheche, said she remains terrified “even up to now”.
“I am yet to come to terms with the horrific incident since it is my first time encountering such experience,” she said.
Another helicopter was also forced to crash land recently after developing a technical fault in the same area.