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21 July 2011

SA Helderberg crash victims' families welcome new info

Relatives of those who perished on board the doomed Helderberg plane 24 years ago have welcomed a new statement made by a retired South African Airways (SAA) pilot about what may have happened to crucial missing tapes.

The SAA boeing crashed near Mauritius in November 1987, killing all 159 people on board after a fire started.

Tapes recording communication with the plane famously went missing or were recorded over.

The Margot Commission and the TRC both investigated the cause of the crash but conspiracy theorists and critics still maintain that the plane was carrying a propellant or arms for the apartheid government.

Samantha van der Walt, who lost both her parents in the crash, welcomed the statement by Clair Fichardt which may shed light on what happened to the missing tapes.

“With people giving statements like this, I hope people listen to their conscience and consider what the families have gone through all these years,” she said.

Peter Wills’ twin brother was also on the plane. He is hopeful that many people will come forward.

According to Fichardt, his now deceased former colleague confessed to him that he handed over the tapes to operations director Mickey Mitchell in the presence of then CEO Gert van der Veer.