By Wallace Ruzvidzo
Scores of mourners yesterday thronged Glen Forest Memorial Park cemetery in Harare to pay their last respects to Flight Lieutenant Anita Mapiye who died in last week’s helicopter crash in Arcturus.
The horror crash claimed the lives of two pilots, Flight Lieutenant Mapiye, Wing Commander Thomas Tinashe Manyowa as well as aircraft technician Flight Sergeant Tinodiwanashe Chikamhi.
All three were buried yesterday, with Flight Lieutenant Mapiye’s burial at Glen Forest, while Wing Commander Manyowa and Flight Sergeant Chikamhi were buried in Chinhoyi and Masvingo respectively.
In a message read on his behalf by Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshall Elson Moyo, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, expressed his deepest condolences to the Mapiye family.
“The Commander Defence Forces General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Service Chiefs, General and Air Officers, senior officers, officers, men and women of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and their families wish to convey their heartfelt condolences to the Mapiye family on the untimely passing on of Flight Lieutenant Anita Mapiye as a result of the fatal Air Force of Zimbabwe aircraft crash,” he said.
Gen Sibanda said Flight Lieutenant Mapiye had a bright future ahead of her after making a name for herself in a male-dominated field.
“She was the first female helicopter pilot in the Air Force of Zimbabwe. Anita was keen on breaking new ground and had a promising career in the Defence Forces as she was now part of the VIP transport aircrew.
“May the family draw comfort from the knowledge that the entire Zimbabwe Defence Force commiserates with you as you go through this difficult period. May the almighty God give you strength to deal with the sad loss and may Anita fly high in the blue skies,” he said.
Flight Lieutenant Mapiye’s father, Mr Elias Mapiye, was at a loss for words as he said he had lost his jewel. The pilot is survived by her eight-month-old baby Munana.
In his own eulogy, Air Marshall Moyo said: “Anita was decorated with the Zimbabwe Independence medal. Ladies and gentlemen, as we gather here and pay our last respects to Flight Lieutenant Anita Mapiye who served the Air Force of Zimbabwe for nine years, we shall always remember her for her constructive, resourceful and outstanding personality.
“On behalf of the Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe, officers and members of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, I would like to express my deepest condolences on the sad loss of Flight Lieutenant Anita Mapiye to the bereaved family, friends, relatives and Air Force of Zimbabwe at large.
“To Anita we say thank you for your loyal service to the Air Force of Zimbabwe and the nation at large, may your soul rest in eternal peace.”
Government has since has set up a board of inquiry to investigate the cause of the helicopter crash, which also claimed the life of 18-month-old Jade Pfenyere, who was on the ground. Flight Lieutenant Mapiye was born on April 3, 1991 in Harare and was attested into the AFZ on September 27, 2012.
She earned her flying wings on July 1, 2017 after graduating at Number 6 Squadron, Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base.
Wing Commander Manyowa was a highly proficient helicopter pilot with more than 20 years of flying experience. The Sunday Mail