Mozambican Tupolev Tu-134 air disaster
Infobox Airliner accident
name = Mozambican Presidential Jet
October 19, 1986
Controlled flight into terrain
Coordinates = coord|25|54|58|S|31|57|19|E|display=inline,title
Site = Mbuzini,
Lebombo Mountains, South Africa
Fatalities = 34cite web|url=http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19861019-0|title=Accident description|publisher=Aviation Safety Network|accessdate=2007-12-18]
Aircraft Type = Tupolev Tu-134A
Last stopover =
MbalaAirport (MMQ), Zambia
Destination= Maputo International Airport (MPM),
Operator = Mozambique Air
Tail Number = airreg|C9|CAA|disaster
Passengers = 35
Crew = 9
Survivors = 10
The Mozambican presidential Tupolev Tu-134A aircraft crashed just inside
South Africanterritory on October 19, 1986. The aircraft was carrying Mozambicanpresident Samora Macheland 34 other passengers on a flight from Zambiato the Mozambique capital Maputowhen it crashed at Mbuzini in the Lebombo Mountains. Nine passengers and one crew member survived the crash, but President Machel and twenty-four others died, including ministers and officials of the Mozambique government.
While there was widespread suspicion — both nationally and internationally — that the apartheid regime was implicated in the crash, no conclusive evidence to this effect has emerged.
outh African actions prior to crash
State Security Council(SSC) meeting in January 1984minuted a discussion of their Mozambican working group, which included General Jac Buchner and Major Craig Williamson, where assistance to RENAMOwas discussed as a means of overthrowing the FRELIMOgovernment of Mozambique. The TRC later included this minute as circumstantial evidencein their inconclusive report.
March 16, 1984, the Nkomati Accordwas signed at Komatipoortbetween South Africa and Mozambique. A clause in this agreement prohibited support of third-party resistance groups. In his commentary on the accord, South African foreign minister Pik Bothaadmitted in an SABC television interview that South Africa had offered limited support to RENAMO in the past.
October 14, 1986Mozambique was sharply criticised by South African general Magnus Malanfor allegedly allowing terrorists to enter South Africa from its territory. Mozambique later cited these remarks as evidence to implicate South Africa in the air crash.
October 18, 1986, Pik Bothaand a number of high-ranking security officials met at Skwamans, a secret security police base shared with military intelligence (MI) operatives halfway between Mbuzini and Komatipoort. The meeting broke up later that day, and Botha departed in a small aircraft. This would later be revealed by a former MI officerWho|date=March 2008 at the 2001 TRC hearings.Fact|date=February 2008
October 19, 1986, President Samora Machelreturned from an international meeting in Zambiaon Flight C9-CAA of the presidential Tupolev Tu-134A aircraft. Flight C9-CAA was approaching Maputoin the first hour after sunset and the flight crew were in relaxed discussion with one another, as revealed by the cockpit voice recorder.
A 37º turn
Around 19:10, 11 minutes prior to impact, at a height of 19,000ft the presidential aircraft made a 37º turn to the right, and headed in the wrong direction of Matsapa,
Swaziland.Fact|date=February 2008 The navigation facility for this turn was never identified. None of the crew, however, identified the facility to one another or to Maputo air traffic control. Rather than continuing over the Mozambican plain to Maputo’s airport near sea level, flight C9-CAA then headed towards the Lebombo Mountainsregion on the South African border.
Sovietinvestigation team would later offer this deviation as evidence that the crew were led astray by a possible ‘decoy navigation beacon’.Fact|date=February 2008 The Mozambican investigation team then pointed to the South African military camp near the crash site as the likely source, where they also claimed an electrical generatorwas present.Fact|date=February 2008 South Africa in turn identified the tents in question as a volleyball facility for soldiers.Fact|date=February 2008
Disorientation and confusion
air traffic controlwas saidWho|date=March 2008 to have cleared the aircraft for a descent to 3,000ft, an altitude above any mountains of the region.Fact|date=February 2008 While descending the pilot, Yuri Novodran, was determined (by the South African-appointed Margo Commission) to have taken a rigid view as to the location of the airport and declined the indirect approach suggested by his crew.
Novodran, unable to discern the runway lights at
Maputo International Airport, decided they were not switched on and informed the air traffic controller: "Check your runway lights".citequote The controller misinterpreted this as "I check your lights" or "I see you",citequote and continued to clear the aircraft for landing. The Margo Commission concluded this was another alleged instance of pilot error.Fact|date=February 2008
Descent and impact
At 19:19:55, 1:45 minutes before impact, the aircraft descended to under 3,000ft. The Margo Commission concluded this was before clearance for landing was received. The aircraft continued to descend at regular intervals toward 2,000ft and lower altitudes for a direct approach to the runway without visual contact. The ground proximity warning system was activated, but was ignored by the crew, because they believed they were in relatively flat territory. The Soviet investigation team later declared this to be a reasonable decision.Fact|date=February 2008
At 19:21:40, the aircraft made controlled impact with level ground at 230 knots at about 1,969ft altitude. The point of impact is near Mbuzini in the
Lebombo Mountainsof South Africa. The first witnesses at the crash scene were reported to have been Mozambican soldiers. According to the next day’s SABC news report, president Machel died instantly when the aircraft crashed. 24 other persons also died and 9 survived.
Captain Marques’s Boeing Flight C9-BAA approached Maputo 14 minutes behind Flight C9-CAA and apparently encountered no confusing radio beacon.Fact|date=February 2008
outh African response
South Africa’s minister of Law and Order, Louis LaGrange, contacted South African foreign minister, Pik Botha, at 4:30 on
October 20, 1986to inform him of the crash. A Beeldnewspaper report, however, claimed it was the SAP.
La Grange revealed that ‘30 to 40 persons’ may have died which may include president Samora Machel and suggested ‘very sensitive handling’ of the situation. Pik Botha relayed the information to State President P.W. Botha and together they decided that Pik Botha should visit the scene as a matter of urgency.
In accordance with the South African Air Control Act, aircraft accidents are required to be investigated by the SA Department of Transport. Thus Pik Botha consulted Hendrik Schoeman of the Department of Transport, once Machel’s death was confirmed. After Botha and Schoeman had visited the crash site, Botha cited "special circumstances", and other international protocols, as reasons to become involved.
On site investigation
The Mozambican government was informed of the situation and invited to send representatives to the border town of
Komatipoort. Mozambican minister Sergio Viera joined Pik Botha at Komatipoort from where they departed by SAAFhelicopter. The helicopter was only able to transport one of two members of the Civil Aviation Bureau, Mr. Pieter de Klerk, who was asked to offer guidance on site.
On arrival, Mozambican minister Sergio Viera asked for the documents that were taken from the aircraft to be handed to him. The SA commissioner of police, Johann Coetzee, had already made copies of these, and the documents were transferred to Viera. The SABC was permitted to take photos at the scene and to do "on location" reports, the only news agency allowed to do so. The South African government claimed that the Civil Aviation Bureau had no complaints about procedures followed at the site. Nonetheless, the flight data and
cockpit voice recorders were removed by the South African Police, who later refused to release them for independent inspection.Fact|date=February 2008
outh African investigation
On the day after the crash, October 20, Mozambique and South Africa agreed that an international board of inquiry should be established with the participation of the
International Civil Aviation Organization. The Chicago Conventiondetermined that South Africa, as the state on whose territory the crash had occurred, would head the investigation. South Africa was obliged to work in partnership with the state of ownership (Mozambique) and the state of manufacture (Soviet Union).
Twelve days following the crash, at 18:00 on
October 31, 1986, Pik Botha convened an interdepartmental government meeting, nominally to discuss progress.
After the meeting, Pik Botha made press announcements to the effect that the aircraft was fitted with antiquated instruments and that tests on two dead crew members revealed excess alcohol content in their bloodstream. Pik Botha was reported to have told
Lothar Neethlingof the SAP to withhold the flight data– and cockpit voice recorders from inspection by both international and Civil Aviation Bureau investigators.Fact|date=February 2008 Soviet and Mozambican investigators were thus placed at a disadvantage in their investigations.
Director Rennie van Zyl of the South African Civil Aviation Bureau then served a
writon Botha and the SAP, and received the two recorders unceremoniously at 15:45 on November 11, 1986. The three international teams signed a protocol of secrecy on November 14, 1986as Botha’s selective announcements were straining relations between the teams and governments. This allowed the teams to agree on the procedures they were to follow.
Nevertheless Botha reported to
Beeldnewspaper on November 24, 1986that he had listened to Maputo air traffic control’s recordings and studied a transcription of them. These he acquired from Foreign Affair’s representative in the South African team.
The Margo Commission
The South African government established the Margo Commission, chaired by judge
Cecil Margo, to investigate the accident. Pik Botha realised that negative international opinion was escalating around the matter and decided to appoint three international members of high standing to the commission. They were:
astronaut Frank Borman
* Geoffrey Wilkinson, former head of the British
Department for Transport’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch
* Sir Edward Eveleigh, former chief justice of the British court of appeal
Margo Commission findings
The Margo commission’s findings were based mainly on the flight recorders, testimony by South African officials and the technical report submitted by the SA investigation team. The Soviet investigation team refused to take part in any public testimony and the Mozambican team also withdrew at the last moment.
The flight recorders gave excellent results, the
cockpit voice recorderespecially revealing much about the interactions between crew members. The investigation was however delayed for several weeks by South African police general Lothar Neethling's refusal to hand the recorders over after he had seized them at the scene of the crash.Fact|date=February 2008
The commission also levelled criticism at Pik Botha for ‘ignoring civil aviation acts’. Botha was further accused of preventing aviation officials from reaching the crash site and of illegally transferring bodies to Mozambican officials. This was claimed to result in the loss of documents essential to a successful investigation.
The commission nevertheless concluded that::
* "the aircraft was airworthy and fully serviced
* there is no evidence of sabotage or outside interference,
* the cause of the accident was that the flight crew failed to follow procedural requirements for an instrument let-down approach,
* the crew continued to descend under
visual flight rulesin darkness and some cloud without having contact with the minimum assigned altitude,
* the crew also ignored the Ground Warning Proximity alarm."
The Margo report was accepted by the
International Civil Aviation Organization.
The Soviet delegation issued a
minority reportsaying that their expertise and experience had been undermined by the South Africans. They advanced the theory of complicity of South African security forces and that the plane had been intentionally diverted by a false navigational beacon signal, using a technology provided by Israeli intelligence agents. The Soviet report focused on the 37 degrees' right turn that led the plane into the hills of Mbuzini. It rejected the finding of the Margo Commission, saying that the crew had read the ground proximity warning as false since they believed themselves to be in flat terrain as they approached landing.Fact|date=December 2007
TRC report 2001
Twelve years after the crash, when the apartheid regime had been replaced by a democratically-elected South African government, a special investigation into Machel's death was carried out in 2001 by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
The TRC investigation was criticized for taking place
in cameraand without any aviation specialist being present. The testimony was further led by a prominent radio journalist rather than a judge.
The TRC's investigation did not find conclusive evidence to support either of the earlier reports. Nonetheless, some pieces of circumstantial evidence collected by the TRC lead to questions being raised about a number of the Margo Commission's findings:
*A former "Military Intelligence" (MI) officer revealed that Pik Botha and a number of high-ranking security officials held a meeting at Skwamans, a secret security police base shared with MI operatives halfway between Mbuzini and
Komatipoort, on the day before the crash. They left late that night in a small plane and some, including Pik Botha, returned there after the crash.
*Flight C9-CAA entered a military and operational zone in South Africa (a
restricted airspace, which was presumed to be under radarsurveillance.) However, no warning that the plane was off course or in South African airspace was given to the aircraft.
State Security Council(SSC) minutes from January 1984 indicate that the Mozambican working group, including General Jac Buchner and Major Craig Williamson, discussed how to help RENAMO overthrow the FRELIMO government of Mozambique.The TRC report concluded that the questions of a false beacon and the absence of a warning from the South African authorities require "further investigation by an appropriate structure".cite web | title = Special Investigation into the death of President Samora Machel | work = Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa)Report, vol.2, chapter 6a| url = http://www.news24.com/Content_Display/TRC_Report/2chap6a.htm| accessmonthday = June 18 | accessyear = 2006 ]
A police video in the TRC's possession shows South African foreign minister
Pik Bothatelling journalists at the crash site that President Samora Machel and others killed in the crash were his and President P. W. Botha's "very good friends", and that their deaths were therefore a tragedy for South Africa.
The TRC's investigation was inconclusive, but pieces of circumstantial evidence were however collected, which led to questions concerning a number of Margo Commission findings.Fact|date=February 2008 After testimony related to a ‘radio beacon in the mountains’ the TRC report concluded that the questions of a false beacon and the absence of a warning from the South African authorities would require further investigation by an appropriate structure.
Independent Mocambiquean investigation
Mozambique contracted an independent Canadian investigator.Who|date=March 2008When He questioned the theory that a radio beacon could be responsible for directing the aircraft on a wrong trajectory.Fact|date=February 2007
Graça Machel's accusation
Graça Machel, who married Nelson Mandelain 1998, believes the air crash was no accident and has dedicated her life to tracking down her late husband's killers. In May 1999, Graça Mandela said in an interview on SABC TV's "News Maker" programme that she remained convinced the apartheid regime was responsible, and challenged former foreign minister Pik Bothato come clean about Samora Machel's death. In reply, Botha told SABC TV on May 16, 1999that although he had been one of the first people on the scene and was called on to identify Machel's body, the only facts he knew about the crash were the findings of the Margo Commission: [cite web|url=http://www.dispatch.co.za/1999/05/17/southafrica/pik.htm|date=May 17, 1999|title=Pik rejects Graça's theory on plane crash|publisher=Dispatch Online|accessdate=2008-03-28]
Confession by Hans Louw
In January 2003, the "Sowetan Sunday World" reported that an apartheid era killer,
Hans Louw, serving a 28-year term at Baviaanspoort Prison near Pretoria, had confessed to participating in a plot to kill Machel by luring the aircraft off course, using a false radio navigational beacon cite web|url=http://www.dispatch.co.za/2003/01/13/southafrica/EMACHEL.HTM|title=Ex-CCB man in Machel death claim|publisher=Daily DIspatch|accessdate=2008-10-06] cite web|url=http://www.africanstudies.uct.ac.za/postamble/vol2-2/assassination.pdf|title=A Case of Assassination?|publisher=University of Cape Town|accessdate=2008-10-06] . The newspaper also revealed that another of the plotters, former Rhodesian Selous Scout, Edwin Mudingi, supported Louw's claim cite web|url=http://www.sundayindependent.co.za/?fSectionId=3536&fArticleId=nw20081006154944165C741265|title=Probe Samora Machel's death - Pik Botha|publisher=Sunday Independent|accessdate=2008-10-06] . However, after an investigation by the Scorpions, a South African special police unit, it was reported in June 2003 that they could find no evidence for South African complicity.Fact|date=October 2008
South African minister of Safety and Security,
Charles Nqakulaannounced on February 2, 2006that the Machel death crash inquiry would be reopened. He told reporters in parliament that all of South Africa's law enforcement agencies were expected to be involved in the probe, in co-operation with their Mozambican counterparts. [cite web|url=http://www.ecr.co.za/content/view/3557/81/|title=Machel probe to re-open|date=February 9, 2006|accessdate=2008-03-29|publisher=East Coast Radio] [cite web|url=http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=287207&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__national/|title=Mozambique seeks new probe into Machel crash|author=Christopher Thompson|publisher= Mail & Guardian|date=October 20, 2006|accessdate=2008-03-29]
A [http://www.panoramio.com/photo/2981080 memorial] was erected at the crash site. Designed by Mozambican architect, Jose Forjaz, at a cost to the South African government of 1.5 million Rand (US$ 300,000), the monument comprises 35 whistling wind pipes symbolising each of lives lost in the aircrash.
It was inaugurated on
January 19, 1999by Nelson Mandelaand his wife Graça, and by President Joaquim Chissanoof Mozambique.
South African president,
Thabo Mbekideclared the memorial a national monument on 19 October 2006. [cite press release|title=South Africans, Mozambicans urged to follow Machel's footsteps|url=http://www.buanews.gov.za/view.php?ID=06102008151001&coll=buanew06|publisher= South African government|date=October 19, 2006]
*cite book|title=Final Postponement, Reminiscences of a crowded life|author=Cecil Margo|date=1998|publisher=Jonathan Ball|location=Johannesburg|isbn=ISBN 186842071X|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=fCS8AAAACAAJ
*cite book|title=Soviet disinformation strategy as applied to Samora Machel death crash.|author=Yvonne Clayburn|date=1989|publisher="Institut für Afrikansche und Internationale Studien"|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=Aj7LHgAACAAJ
* [http://www.news24.com/Content_Display/TRC_Report/2chap6a.htm Special Investigation into the death of President Samora Machel - TRC Report]
* [http://www.africanstudies.uct.ac.za/postamble/vol2-2/assassination.pdf A case of assassination? President Samora Machel and the plane crash at Mbuzini]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6062196.stm Mystery still surrounds Machel death]
* [http://www.airliners.net/search/photo.search?regsearch=C9-CAA&distinct_entry=true Photos of the aircraft]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
1986 Mozambican Tupolev Tu-134 crash — Mozambican Presidential Jet A Tupolev Tu 134, similar to the aircraft that was involved in the accident Accident summary Date … Wikipedia
2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash — Polish Air Force Tu 154 crash Part of the fuselage near Smolensk Accident summary Date 10 April … Wikipedia
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster — For more information about the final mission and crew of the Challenger, see STS 51 L. Space Shuttle Challenger s smoke plume after the in flight breakup that killed all seven crew members … Wikipedia
Cecil Margo — Judge Cecil Stanley Margo (died 19 November, 2000) was a member of the South African judiciary. Early life and studiesHe received his law degree at the University of the Witwatersrand and was called to the Johannesburg Bar in 1937 where he… … Wikipedia
Joaquim Chissano — Joaquim Alberto Chissano 2nd President of Mozambique In office November 6, 1986 – February 2, 2005 Prime Minister Mário da Graça Machungo … Wikipedia
State Security Council — The State Security Council (SSC) presided over the National Security Management System (NSMS) of president P W Botha s apartheid regime in South Africa. Its function was to advise the government on formulating and executing national security… … Wikipedia
State-sponsored terrorism — The definitions of state sponsored terrorism, terrorism, and state terrorism are controversial. By countryFranceThe sinking of the Rainbow Warrior , codenamed Operation Satanic is attributed to France.cite… … Wikipedia
Lothar Neethling — General Lothar Paul Neethling (29 August 1935 11 July 2005) was chief deputy commissioner (second in command) of the South African Police in the apartheid era.A highly qualified scientist, General Lothar Neethling was alleged to have used police… … Wikipedia
Controlled flight into terrain — CFIT redirects here. For the Canadian radio station in Airdrie, Alberta, see CFIT FM. A piece of the remains of Air New Zealand Flight 901, which crashed in 1979. All 257 people on the plane were killed. Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)… … Wikipedia
Aeroméxico Flight 498 — N4891F Hermosillo falling to the ground immediately after the collision. The horizontal stabilizer is missing. Mid air collision summary Date … Wikipedia