Chopper pilot was drunk, inquiry told

2013-07-01 09:11

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Johannesburg - A judicial inquiry in the eMalahleni Magistrate's Court has heard allegations that the police pilot of a helicopter that crashed in July 2010, leaving seven people dead, was intoxicated, Beeld reported on Monday.

The pilot, Captain Wickus Zaayman, 31, and his colleagues were flying to a crime in progress in eMalahleni when their helicopter crashed.

Prosecutor Tom Clemens argued that Zaayman and his co-pilot, Thinus Gouws, were drunk at the time of the crash, and their intoxicated state contributed to the disaster.

Clemens said that Zaayman, who during his career had piloted planes carrying former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, had post mortem blood alcohol levels of 0.08 g/100 ml, while Gouws's levels were tested at 0.02 g/100 ml.

But lawyer Malose Monene, for the police, argued that evidence was "overwhelmingly clear" that Zaayman had been sober when he was required to fly.

This was evidenced, Monene said, by Zaayman's decision to drop one of his passengers after he took off because the helicopter was too heavy.

According to Monene, Zaayman was also experienced enough to fly in bad weather.

Magistrate Ernst du Plooy will deliver judgment in November.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  air crashes

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