Police pilot had elevated booze level, flew into cloud ahead of crash

2013-11-05 00:00

eMALAHLENI (Witbank) — The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions must now decide whether anyone should be prosecuted for statutory offences after a helicopter crash in 2010, which caused the deaths of seven police officers.

Magistrate Ernst du Plooy yesterday said he and Rennie van Zyl, a specialist assessor, could not rule whether the deaths were caused by negligent actions by the pilot, the late Captain Wikus Zaayman, or any of his passengers.

“With no clear information on what happened inside the cabin, which could have led to a loss of control, it is not possible to rule on the cause of the crash.”

The law governing inquests determines that the Director of Public Prosecutions can decide to re-open a case and obtain supporting statements.

Du Plooy said the two police helicopters, piloted by Colonel Willie Norval and Zaayman, had flown through thick mist and over a cloud bank that was estimated to be between 300 and 500 feet high. This is contrary to police regulations. The two helicopters had left Wonderboom airport on July 23, 2010 to transport officers to eMalahleni for an armed robbery investigation.

Over Bronkhorstspruit, the two helicopters flew into a high mist cloud. Both pilots decided to ascend and flew at 6 000 feet above sea level to eMalahleni.

Earlier, the court heard how Norval had first tried to descend when he saw a gap in the clouds. While he was approaching to land, the thick mist closed in again and he had to make use of his instruments for a few seconds.

As Zaayman experienced the same conditions, his helicopter hit with the ground. Norval had earlier testified that Zaayman was not yet qualified to fly using instruments only.

Du Plooy said both pilots had left Pretoria without checking the weather over eMalahleni.

Du Plooy said while Zaayman had a blood alcohol level of 0,08 g per 100 ml, four times the limit of 0,02 g per 100 ml for pilots, the manner in which Zaayman had flown to eMalahleni was normal and not like someone who was drunk. It would therefore be unfair to say he was drunk. “The possibility that his reactions, his judgment and his concentration levels were adversely affected by his blood alcohol level can, however, not be excluded.”

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
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.