One Zimbabwean soldier was killed while eight other soldier and five civilians were seriously injured when a Toyota Land Cruiser carrying members of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Special Forces veered off the road and overturned near Kariba last Friday.
The soldiers are part of the more than 900 SADC Special Forces troops taking part in the month-long regional special forces counter-terrorism exercise code-named ‘Exercise Mahombekombe’ which is taking place on Lake Kariba and the surrounding areas.
The exercise, which is focusing on combat survival, anti-hijacking and counter-terrorism, began on August 26 and will end on September 26. Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) that a member of the ZDF died in the accident which critically injured 4 other Zimbabwean, three Angolan and one Mozambican army member who were travelling in the same vehicle.
He said five civilians who had been given a lift by the soldiers were also injured in the crash which happened about 20 kilometres out of Kariba town.
Chiwenga said an investigation has been opened to establish the cause of the accident although witnesses suggested it could have been caused by a combination of speeding and reckless driving.
Eight regional member states’ defence forces are taking part in the exercise which seeks to develop inter-operability of the regional armies and strengthen a unified rapid response capability.
The exercise was launched two weeks ago in Kariba by the Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant General Philip Sibanda and comes two years after the SADC special forces lost three sailors – a Malawian and two South Africans – during the annual counter-terrorism exercise in October 2013.
They were among 32 soldiers who were taking part in the special forces Exercise Welwitschia off the coast of Sandwich Harbour near Walvis Bay in Namibia. The accident occurred when two Barracuda boats they were in capsized.