New inquiry into Samora Machel air crash opened

2012-12-12 13:13

South Africa has launched a fresh investigation into the 1986 plane crash on its territory that killed Samora Machel, the president of neighbouring Mozambique who was a fierce opponent of the white apartheid government at the time.

Speculation has long persisted that apartheid-era security agencies brought the plane down to rid Pretoria of a hostile neighbouring president. But previous probes into the crash in rugged terrain near the border between the two countries have failed to bring to light conclusive evidence of this.

Paul Ramaloko, spokesman for South Africa’s special police investigations unit the Hawks, said today the probe was being conducted jointly with Mozambican officials.

“I do confirm it and we are working with the Mozambicans on this,” he told Reuters, but he gave no further details.

Machel was a charismatic military commander and ardent Marxist who became Mozambique’s founding president in 1975 after the nation gained independence from Portugal, putting it on the front line in the struggle against white-ruled South Africa.

He was killed with 33 others in October 1986, when the presidential aircraft, a Soviet Tupolev, crashed in mountainous countryside en route to Mozambique from Zambia.

The Times reported today the government had launched a new investigation because fresh evidence had emerged indicating the involvement of apartheid-era security officials. Apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994.

Ramaloko, asked if the inquiry would focus on government officials or security forces under apartheid, said: “I really cannot say who will be implicated, or if they are still alive.”

Regional tensions were running high at the time of the crash. Mozambique was in the throes of a civil war, in which South African-backed Renamo rebels were fighting against Machel’s government and ruling Frelimo party.

In 1987, a South African judge concluded the crash was caused by pilot error on the part of the Soviet crew.

Following the end of white minority rule, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up to look into political crimes in the apartheid era, launched an inconclusive probe into the crash and said further investigation was needed.

Machel’s widow Graça married Nelson Mandela in 1998 while he was still president of South Africa.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.