Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cover-up in Mandela pilot's crash: Mother

The family of Nelson Mandela's pilot who perished in an air-crash two years ago, accuse the SA National Defense Force of covering up details of the accident.

Major Kurt Misrole died with 10 other passengers on December 5, 2012, exactly a year before Mandela died.

According to a report on the SA Air Force website, "the C-47TP Dakota transport aircraft of 35 Squadron was on a routine shuttle run from AFB [Air Force Base] Waterkloof near Pretoria to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape when it encountered severe weather conditions on December 5.

"The wreckage of the aircraft was found the next morning, having crashed on a mountain top near Giants Castle in the Drakensburg mountains. All 11 members of the air force aboard were killed".

Misrole's mother, Beulah Misrole, said Kurt was not supposed to have been at work on that day as he had taken leave until January 2013.

It is believed the C-47TP Dakota plane was going to deliver medical support for the then ailing Mandela.

The plane had been in the air force service for more than 75 years.

A board of inquiry was instituted into the accident, and at a memorial service for the late 11 crew members on December 11 that year, Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: "The investigation results will be made public as soon as possible..."

But two years later, Misrole is still fighting a seemingly lost battle to get the defense force to release the findings.

In her attempts, she even applied the Promotion of Access to Information Act to force the unit to release the report.

Responding to Misrole's request last month, defense secretary Colonel GJ Barnard said the report was being referred to the defense intelligence division "for declassification and/or masking process as no department of defense records may be released to the public without the said process".

Thereafter, it will be referred to the chief of defense force General Solly Shoke and Barnard for recommendations and to decide whether it should be released or not.

"It's a cover-up. I've done all I could to get answers from SANDF about the incident. I have even sent out an advert to newspapers last year seeking assistance and I'm doing that again this year.

"I've sent letters to the office of the defense minister but they get returned because someone is not collecting them from the post office. I'm not going anywhere unless they put a bullet through my head," said 58-year-old Misrole.

She said her research, which included talking to Kurt's colleagues, led her to believe the aircraft was not in good condition.

Ironically, Kurt qualified as a military pilot on December 5 2002, the same date that he and Mandela died.

"I believe something was wrong with that aircraft. It was old and had no blackbox and it's not clear if it had any oxygen cylinders.

The aircraft crashed at 11000 feet [3353m] and it couldn't have gone higher than that," said Misrole.

The defence spokesman Xolani Mabanga said they acted fairly in dealing with the report, adding that they needed more time to declassify it before it could be released to the public.

"The declassifying process requires us to look at the contents of the report and to ensure that we do not divulge information that could land in wrong hands," said Mabanga.

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Flyme flight makes emergency landing after bomb threat

A Flyme passenger flight has made an emergency landing at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) at 11:49pm on Saturday after the pilot received a bomb threat, the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) has confirmed.

All 11 passengers and three crew members on board the flight have been escorted safely off the plane, the statement said. The MNDF is now conducting a search of the aircraft.

The airport runway was opened after a two and a half hour closure.

The Maldives Police Services declined to state if any arrests were made, only stating that said an investigation team is active at the airport.

The flight to Baa Atoll Dharavandhoo Island left Malé at 11:04pm, a journey of approximately 20 minutes.

Minivan News understands a passenger on board the flight passed the bomb threat written in English to the pilot via a member of the crew.

On receiving the threat, the pilot immediately turned around and headed back to INIA. All arrivals to Malé were diverted and departures including a Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines flight were delayed.

Only one of the 11 passengers is a Maldivian, a Flyme official has confirmed.

A year ago, on November 23, a Flyme flight departing to Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Kaadehdhoo was delayed after a group threatened to hijack the plane.

Flyme is operated by Villa Air, a subsidiary of Villa Group. Tourism tycoon, Jumhooree Party Leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim is the owner of Villa Group.

Last week a Flyme flight was forced to return  to Malé en route to Kadadehdhoo after a 59-year-old woman died during shortly after take off.

Story and comments:

 The Maldives Police Service on Sunday said that they are investigating the bomb threat sent to a Flyme Airlines passenger flight on Saturday night.

A flight en route to Dharavandhoo Airport in Baa atoll had to make an emergency landing at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) after the cabin crew found the threat on a seat on the plane.

“The investigation is ongoing but we cannot reveal any of the findings to the press yet” a police official told Haveeru.

Haveeru has received information that the culprits behind the threat had demanded that a group of prisoners at the Maafushi prison be released. The source had not identified the convicts.

According to the official, a team from the service has been active on the scene since it landed at 11:49 pm. Flights scheduled to land at the airport were rerouted and departures were delayed more than two hours.

11 passengers and two cabin crew were safely escorted off the plane.

The incident delayed departures via flights from Emirates, Singapore, and Turkish airlines.

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