Pilot battling Cape Town fire dies in chopper crash

2015-03-08 17:37

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The pilot who died in a helicopter crash while dousing fire at Cape Point this morning has been identified as Willem Hendrik “Bees” Marais.

Marais attempted a forced landing with his Bell 212 Huey near Olifantsbos in the Table Mountain National Park at 11:30am when he crashed.

As a freelance flyer for poverty relief programme Working On Fire, Marais worked tirelessly this week battling the blaze that erupted last Sunday, scooping water and dropping it on flames with a 1000 litre bambi-bucket attached to his chopper.

Marais, a former South African Air Force (SAAF) pilot, leaves behind his wife, Jacqui, and their children.

A friend of his from his SAAF days, Mariette Hopley, described him as always having a smile on his face.

“Very calm and friendly, always a smile and time for colleagues and people around him. He was loved by all,” Hopley told City Press

“He excelled as an aviator and taught and shared his knowledge and expertise with many other pilots. He was a special soul and mentor.”

Meanwhile, city councillor JP Smith said arsonists are suspected to be behind flare-ups that started at Scarborough on the South Peninsula late yesterday.

The city has called in the services of one of South Africa’s leading forensic investigators, Dr David Klatzow, to look into how the fires originated.

Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security, said: “These are two new fires. We received a call from a Fish Hoek fire volunteer. The helicopter will water-bomb the area until 7.20pm and the fire-fighters will have to stay overnight”.

The fight against the fire continues while condolences for Marais’ family pours in.

Marais also worked for Air Mercy Service, a non-profit organisation that provides emergency air ambulance and rural health outreach programmes across South Africa.

“RIP Oom Bees. What a legend!” tweeted fellow air medical worker, Farhaad Haffejee.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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.


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.