Moving funeral parade for airforce crash pilots

08 Feb, 2023 - 00:02 0 Views
Moving funeral parade for airforce crash pilots Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base Commander Air Commodore Marcelino Jakuvos Jaya pays his respects to Wing Commander Daniel Manyenga at the air base yesterday.

The Chronicle

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
IT was an occasion of immense poignancy at Josiah Tungamirai Airbase in Gweru as two caskets swathed in the national flag and mounted on trolleys were gently pushed by pallbearers into the Parade Square.

The caskets contained the remains of two senior Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) pilots, Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base deputy commander, Group Captain Bensen Munyanduki (50) and Wing Commander Daniel Manyenga (37) who died last Thursday.

The two senior officers were killed when an AFZ SF260, trainer aircraft, crashed in the Mlezu College general area, near Kwekwe.

AFZ chief of staff, supporting services, Air Vice Marshal Jacob Nzwede, lays a wreath on Josiah Tungamirai Airforce Base deputy commander Group Captain Bensen Manyanduki’s casket yesterday

The aircraft was on a routine training sortie when it hit a power line and crashed. As a sign of respect and honour for the two fallen pilots, everyone on the parade square stood at attention.

Each casket accompanied by a chaplain had a six-man guard of honour carrying the coffins to the parade square.

As per tradition, the firing party with the Air Force Brass Band joined the march in the square as they played the moving beautiful renditions of “Baba Ndiri Mwana Wenyu” (Father, I am your child) and “Apo Mambo Ouya” (When the King Shall Come Again).

At about 10.15AM, the two caskets were paraded in the square as relatives, friends and workmates took their seats.

Closely following the proceedings were AFZ Commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo, Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima, the permanent secretary in the province, Mr Abiot Maronge, and Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base Commander, Air Commodore Marcelino Jakuvos Jaya, among others.

As the sun beat relentlessly down on the parade square, the procession stood at ease as the presiding officer, AFZ Chief-of-Staff Air Vice Marshal Jacob Nzwede and supporting services took over the funeral parade.

Air Vice Marshal Nzwede read the obituaries of the fallen pilots before the parade marched past Air Marshal Moyo.

However, due to the state of the bodies, there was no body viewing. It was a moving moment as the caskets were taken to two hearses with some relatives and friends failing to control their emotions as the deceased were now being taken to their final resting places.

Both the Munyanduki and Manyenga families and friends also took time to comfort each other through handshakes and warm embraces. The late Group Captain Munyanduki and Wing Commander Manyenga are survived by their wives and two children each.

Group Captain Munyanduki was laid to rest yesterday at Destiny Cemetery in Gweru while Wing Commander Manyenga will be buried today at his rural home in Gutu, Masvingo Province.

Air Vice Marshal Nzwede, who was the chief mourner, said he was shocked and saddened when he learnt of the death of the two pilots.

“They were taken away from us at the time when their services were critically required in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Air Force of Zimbabwe in particular,” said Air Vice Marshal Nzwede.

Funeral parade

He said Group Captain Munyanduki attended three primary schools in Chimanimani, Chipinge and Beitbridge between 1981 and 1984.

“For his secondary education, he attended Nyanga High School and completed his Advanced level at Fletcher High School in Gweru in 1992. He was attested into the AFZ on June 1, 1994, as an officer cadet under pilot training course number 59 at the School of Flying Training at the then Thornhill Air Force Base now Josiah Tungamirai Air Force base,” said Air Vice Marshal Nzwede.

“He successfully completed basic flying training at Number 6 Squadron and got his flying badge and commission in the rank of Air Sub-Lieutenant on November 1, 1996.”

Group Captain Munyanduki later underwent an FT-7 aircraft conversion course at Number 5 Squadron in the year 2000.

Funeral parade for the AFZ pilots at Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base in Gweru

“His excellent overall performance resulted in him being selected to attend a flying course in Libya in 2002 where he converted on the Mig 23 jet aircraft. Three years later in 2005, he was again selected to attend a flying instructors’ and a flight commanders’ course in China,” said Air Vice Marshal Nzwede.

Group Captain Munyanduki was rated among the best pilots in the AFZ. He was selected to be part of the AFZ contingent seconded to the South African Air Force to train their pilots.

Group Captain Munyanduki was also seconded to the Namibian Air Force from 2015 to 2018 to train Namibian pilots on FT-7 aircraft.

He is survived by his wife, Charity and two daughters, Nokutenda and Ruvarashe.

Air Vice Marshal Nzwede said the late Wing Commander Manyenga was born in Gutu and attended Mbirikira Primary School from 1993 to 1999.

Air Vice Marshal Jacob Nzwede, AFZ chief of staff, supporting services

He attended Soti Source Secondary School from 2000 to 2003 before proceeding to Mupandawana High School for his Advanced level studies.

“He joined the Air Force of Zimbabwe on November 5, 2007 as an officer cadet under pilot training course number 65 at the School of Flying Training. As a result of his outstanding performance in basic flying training, he was commissioned to the rank of Air Lieutenant in 2011,” said Air Vice Marshal Nzwede.

He said the late Wing Commander was selected for further pilot training in China.

“The results he attained during the course in China speak highly of his proficiency as a pilot and instructor. The late senior officer demonstrated his academic excellence by graduating with a first degree from the Midlands State University (MSU),” said Air Vice Marshal Nzwede.

The late Wing Commander Manyenga is survived by wife, Nelia and two children, Tinotenda Dyan and Denique Anashe.

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