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Type Helderberg Flight Special Hearing: In Camera
Starting Date 02 June 1998
Location Cape Town
Names JOHN DAVID HARE, MARTINUS GERHARDUS WILLEMSE, VERNON NADEL
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MS TERREBLANCHE: Yes. Apart from one witness today I think we will have, at least I have seen here four witnesses from the South African Airways. Two of them former employees and two of them current employees. We have here with us Mr John Hare. He is currently still with SAA. Good morning, welcome.
CHAIRPERSON: I will ask Commissioner Wildschut to swear you in but before we do that let me welcome you and let me say we are extremely pleased that you have been able to take the time to be here. A few ground rules. The enquiry is held in terms of Section 29 of the Act.
It is an in-camera hearing. It is held in terms of the Act and the section provides that all evidence that has been led here will be confidential and remain confidential until the Commission decides otherwise and if and when the Commission so decides it will be in the circumstances where the people who have led such evidence and those who might be affected adversely by the evidence so taken at such an enquiry will have been given an opportunity to make representations.
So for the moment everything that you will be giving to us in this information gathering exercise will remain confidential. It is for that reason that only people who have been invited or subpoenaed to attend and members of the Commission and their staff which include the translators and the sound engineers are permitted and will be attending at the enquiries.
Which therefore brings me to who you have here. On my left is Commissioner Wildschut. She is a Commissioner in the Reparations and Rehabilitationís Committee. My name is Ntsebeza. I am a Commissioner in the Human Rights Violations Committee and to my right is Wilson Magadhla. He is the head of the Special Investigative Section of the TRC Investigative Unit. To the right is Ms Crystal Terreblanche who is an investigator who has been doing all the investigation that has caused this hearing to be held.
And with her is Dr David Klatzow who is a forensic specialist and who has been contracted by the Commission as a consultant and will be assisting Ms Terreblanche in the execution of their tasks. There will be tea which I believe will be served between 11 and quarter past 11 and there will be lunch. I do need to indicate that I will, I have an engagement at 5 with the Ministry, Minister Pallo Jordan and I will therefore have to excuse myself at half past four.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Thank you. Mr Hare, we have asked you to come here for the following reasons. To provide details and answer questions about the relationship between Armscor and SAA during the 1980ís with particular reference to the period 1985 to Ď88. To answer questions pertaining to your role in Armscor as well as in South African Airways.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Sorry. Do you want me to repeat everything? You heard me spelling out the questions that weíve already put to you. We understand that you werenít at SAA at the time of the Helderberg incident but that you have certain expertise. At the moment I would just like to know whether youíve prepared anything pertaining to the questions that we have put to you?
MR HARE: Ms Terreblanche, in answer it may seem quite strange to you but you ask a question alluding to a relationship between Armscor and South African Airways and my only response to that is that I am not aware of any such relationship that may or may not have existed but I certainly am not aware that there was any relationship in the period that you refer to and therefore continuing from that in the particular period that you refer to in the question later on, the same answer would apply.
I am certainly not aware of any relationship that could have existed between Armscor and South African Airways other than a normal relationship in terms of which personnel of Armscor made use of South African Airways for passenger services.
MR HARE: Could I just go back before we do that to your earlier opening remark where you say that I am in possession of certain expertise and point out to you that that expertise would certainly not cover items such as the Helderberg or the technicalities of what happened to the Helderberg other than by way of hearsay that Iíve picked up during the course of my employment with SAA.
MR HARE: I think the easiest will be if I give you an indication of what the role was that I played at Armscor and then refer that to the change in my employment in 1990 and indicate what my responsibilities are and have been from that period.
I was employed by Armscor in the capacity of the general manager of one of the subsidiary companies Infoplan in 1976, April of 1976. Infoplan is a subsidiary company which at the time was responsible for the provision of data processing services, computer services to Armscor and certain of itís subsidiary companies.
It had a small personnel and there was an in-house data processing company. Approximately a year later I was asked to move from the general managership of Infoplan through to the Armscor head office when Armscor and the Armament Board amalgamated itís operations.
At the time the change in my function involved the installation and updating of financial records, particularly those that had been maintained by the old Armaments Board, the installation of financial systems and the development of those systems so that the company could account properly and duly in terms of the Companies Act and itís own enactment which was applicable.
I served in that capacity for a number of years. I continued my responsibility for the data processing company. My capacity, my role at that stage was, title was that of senior general manager finance. At a later stage we split the functions, Armscor split the functions of finance into two. The one that I retained responsibility for was in essence the treasury function.
The treasury function was predominantly the provision of funding for the operations of Armscor through approaches to the capital market, through approaches to various lenders. It was over and above that a specialist function in terms of the negotiation and provision of export finance for export contracts where arms were sold to a variety of purchases and it continued through holding directorships of Armscorís manufacturing, certain of their manufacturing subsidiary companies in which role I was particularly responsible for their financial acumen for their proper accounting of their transactions.
In late 1989 I was approached by a consulting firm of recruitment specialists. At the time it was indicated to me that a major client of that company had a desire to appoint a chief financial officer. It was put to me that the particular role was very necessary in terms of the degree of expertise held by that company and the fact that they were in the throes of corporatising and converting from a State owned entity into a parastatal and after several months of negotiation concerning the possibility I had made the decision to transfer and commence employment with South African Airways.
I was appointed at the time as senior general manager of South African Airways with a particular responsibility for finance and accounting systems and in that capacity I acted for several, for a couple of years until such time as we had some re-organisations within South African Airways and my responsibilities were augmented. I later became responsible for data processing operations, for capital purchases, for fuel purchases, for a period for the cargo operations of the company, that was for a limited period and subsequently for the maintenance operations of South African Airways.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Thank you. We have talked obviously to a large number of people in terms of the Helderberg. Now two former SAA employees, in fact one is still an employee has told me that Armscor did have an account with SAA and I think you would be in a very good position to clarify that?
MR HARE: Ms Terreblanche I canít shed any light on that. Iím not aware that there was an account. My only comment would be that any number of South African corporations have accounts with South African Airways. It may be that there was such an account in existence. That would include, if I look at the average South African corporation an account for passengers, it would include a cargo account, it could include any number of items that were transacted between South African Airways and Armscor.
MR HARE: I think that, you know you infer in, aware of the financial position the level of detail, but quite frankly Iím not aware of. We had a number of accounts that were operated by South African corporations with SAA. I would normally only expect to become aware of the detail of those accounts if they were in a situation where they were giving problems. If they werenít paying their bills or they were in arrears for some particular reason. So I wouldnít normally expect to be aware of an account like that.
DR KLATZOW: And you would be aware that Armscor - I think if you use the other microphone it wonít keep switching off. The basic structure of the company would be something that would be well known to you. Now Armscor functioned in a period where we as South Africans were considered to be pariahs of the world, is that correct?
DR KLATZOW: And Armscor did so by means of not only the skill which they could bring to it by the use of skilled personnel such as yourself but they did not hesitate to use subterfuge in order to achieve their ends on many occasions, is that not correct?
DR KLATZOW: Iím not referring to South African Law. You broke International Laws on, with impunity, on many occasions in order to achieve your aims and in fact up until recently, the Armscor had a major embarrassment and was a major stumbling block because you had broken Federal Laws in the United States and your Armscor officials are up on a charge in the United States, is that not correct?
MR HARE: Iím not aware of the detail of the charges that were levelled against them. Certainly it would be correct to say that Armscor was involved in the acquisition of military hardware and that there were items which, or that in that acquisition it was probable that certain international regulations would have been broken.
DR KLATZOW: Alright, let me re-phrase it. Would you deny, under oath, that Armscor broke international regulations in the achievement of itís aims which was at that time the pursuit and fighting of the total onslaught?
DR KLATZOW: Mr Hare Iím not suggesting that you did so. Iím suggesting that as a senior member of the Armscor stable, you would have been aware that there were certain things to be done and that you couldnít just walk over to the various countries who regarded us as pariahs and buy the equipment you needed and therefore Iím not debating the rightness and wrongness, Iím debating that you had a task to be done and you did it and you did not let regulations stand in the way and I think youíve agreed with that.
CHAIRPERSON: It is a pretty common cause Mr Hare that Armscor did break the arms embargo and that in fact fairly recently that was one of the issues that seemed to be militating [inaudible] recommendation of the US/South Africa relationships as far as those deals go because there was evidence that the arms embargo that was violated by South Africa and Armscor, wasnít that common cause? Canít we admit without being specific that generally it was the position. Without discussing the ethics and the wrongness or rightness of it.
MR HARE: Please let us not assume then by extrapolation that I was party to transactions of that nature or had specific knowledge and I was aware of what was going on in a variety of areas. Dr Klatzow in a question earlier on referred to specific and detailed and intimate knowledge of the company and itís structures and I would say that Armscor, in the case of Armscor one needs to take into account that the structures of Armscor were created in a way that our knowledge was restricted to those people to whom it was essential to have that knowledge.
DR KLATZOW: That is exactly the point that I was getting to because, as a man well versed in commercial practises you would see, from the structure of the company that it was specifically designed on a need to know and that it was designed in a fashion which was ideally suited, if I could put it, to sanction busting and clandestine operations in order to achieve their stated aims.
DR KLATZOW: Right. Now, I presume that there was a very tight chain of command at Armscor. That people couldnít just go off doing whatever they wanted to do. The chain of command was closely regulated?
DR KLATZOW: And that junior members of the Armscor staff wouldnít do things that were inamicable to the well-being of the company or wouldnít do things off their own bat, there was a well structured line of orders?
MR HARE: I think one has to be careful with the assumption there will inevitably be a number of people who would "be doing their own thing", choosing their own way of doing things. The task would be one that was defined, the objective defined, the way of doing it would not necessarily have been defined at all.
DR KLATZOW: Thatís correct but ultimately for a large capital expenditure project or for a significant project there would be a line of command and that there would be some monitoring, it wasnít a free for all?
DR KLATZOW: Correct. And one of the functions of Somchem was that it was producing a variety of military ordinance, ranging from small arms ammunition through to pyrotechnics and it produced the compound called ammonium perchlorate. Are you aware of that?
MR HARE: The first part of the statement is correct regarding explosives, pyrotechnics Iím less certain of, Iím not aware that they were in the business of manufacturing pyrotechnics and Iím certainly not aware of the details of particular product manufacture.
DR KLATZOW: Correct. And Mr Hare, it will not have passed you by that South Africa was at the time, and it has been admitted officially, engaged in what turned out to be an abortive development of rockets?
DR KLATZOW: And there was also, and the one that I refer to as being abortive was a rather more adventurous project to develop some sort of delivery mechanism for the fledgling nuclear industry. Some kind of intercontinental or long range missile. Youíre aware that that?
DR KLATZOW: Well, can I make you aware of it because that is in fact the case. It is a very common chemical. You must also be aware that part of the policy of Armscor in achieving itís aims was what has been referred to by too many of ex Armscor officials to take anything but seriously as Chinese engineering. Do you know what the term Chinese engineering is?
DR KLATZOW: Thatís absolutely correct. And for the enlightenment of the Commission, the principle was that you obtained by whatever means a sample of whatever it was that you wished to have and your chemists, engineers and scientists back in South Africa would copy it and then manufacture it on a proper scale. Is that correct?
DR KLATZOW: Correct. Now many many of the products which Armscor have produced are in fact straight copies of other products which were available on the market and I will name just three for you. The Z88 pistol which was made by Armscor is a copy of the Baretta. The R4 is a copy of the Galleou and the R1 was a direct copy of the Belgium FN FAL Rifle. You could put the parts from the one into the other and they would function. Youíre aware of that?
DR KLATZOW: Now what Iím getting to is this, that Armscor saw to it that whatever itís goals were, were achieved by means, whatever means at itís disposal and if that meant purloining international intellectual property they didnít scruple to do that. Youíre not going to deny that?
DR KLATZOW: Okay. Now, I want to put to you the following. That the military at the time in Angola were having a problem with new fighter jets and they were having a problem with the surface to air or air to air missiles and I want to put to you that it became extremely important for Armscor to develop a means for countering this threat and further I want to put to you that at the time the only way that was able to do that was by means of developing a better missile and that there was an urgent need to do that. Do you have any knowledge of that?
DR KLATZOW: Okay, but what Iím trying to indicate to you is that having been faced with a problem of that magnitude, can you think of any reason whatsoever having already indicated that Armscor was prepared to break the niceties of International Law why they would not try and get a better rocket propellant brought into the country to reverse engineer? Can you think of a single reason why that would be an outlandish suggestion?
DR KLATZOW: I accept that itís hypothetical but the question was quite a specific question. Given the fact that there was a problem with aircraft in Angola. Given the fact that there was an urgent need to develop a better form of rocketry. Given those facts, can you think of a reason why Armscor would not have brought in the material that they needed to reverse engineer to deal with this extremely urgent problem?
MR HARE: Dr Klatzow you have indicated that there was an extremely urgent problem. I have no knowledge of that. You have indicated a scenario that indicates that Armscor would have wished to develop such a project or such a projectile and such a counter measure. I have no knowledge of that.
MR HARE: Weíre in the area where this kind of hypothetical speculation, I could certainly not deny and say that itís possible that Armscor would wish to have brought in a product A, B, C, D or E. That may well be.
DR KLATZOW: The question was very simple and weíre getting side-tracked. The question was, if my premises are correct, if the suppositions that Iíve put to you are correct, can you think of a reason why Armscor would not have broken international sanctions by whatever method getting the material they needed and bringing it in aboard a civilian airliner. And I think the answer is no.
MR HARE: And right up to now, you and I have probably not differed on the subject of what Armscor was busy doing and the ways that they would have used. I am certainly not aware of the situation whereby Armscor would have taken steps on an irresponsible basis to conduct importation of materials on any basis that was not particularly safe or that would have placed any particular, either aircraft or passenger aboard an aircraft at risk.
DR KLATZOW: Well weíll get to that. Let me, I presume that the answer to the first part, without the civilian airliner is that they would have brought that in by whatever means they needed to get it here?
MR HARE: I think that Armscor operated with integrity. Armscor in my opinion would not have undertaken such a risk. I would certainly not have been party to doing so had I known that that was going to happen.
DR KLATZOW: And you know that he has vast experience as a pilot? When I put to Captain Look that he was mistaken and that the items that fell out of his hold were mirage drop tanks. He was infuriated. And Iím telling you this for your own interest, he was quite infuriated. Infuriated to the point where he quite unwillingly indicated to me that he was a man who would clearly know the difference between a mirage drop tank and a rocket which had fallen out.
DR KLATZOW: Well itís not so much the circumstances, itís the fact that numerous people at SAA have attempted to try and convince me that the items which fell out of the aircraft were mirage drop tanks. And it is that which I want to deal with. Because surely Mr Hare, the simple thing that if you were transporting something in a responsible fashion aboard a civilian airliner which bore or posed no risk to the passengers, you could easily as an airline and Dr Kruger could easily have said to me, we were carrying empty rocket casings, it is a simple matter, they posed no risk and we were quite entitled in terms of IATA Regulations to carry them. Why didnít he do that? Why did he resort to trying to convince me that they were mirage wing tanks?
MR HARE: There may be a particularly simple answer, you know youíve posed the question, you posed the question to me originally and I sent you to the people who I believe had information that could have assisted you. If youíre saying that the information they gave you was incorrect, please pose the question to them again.
DR KLATZOW: Iím going to. But what Iím trying to deal with, with you, is to suggest to you that the way in which they answered my question was to divert me from my investigation rather than to give me information. And Iím asking you if you can think of a reason why they would want to do that?
MR HARE: Let me be very categoric Dr Klatzow, I believe that everybody within SAA, from the time that the Helderberg accident occurred through to the present day would go out of their way to assist you in finding the cause of the fire that was on board the Helderberg. I think that nobody who sits within the airline would have any interest other than doing that. I cannot answer as to a particular question that you posed to an individual. I would put it to you that you didnít come back to me at that stage and say, Mr Hare what is the problem, these guys are giving me information that I cannot regard as being accurate.
DR KLATZOW: Thereís a reason that I didnít come back to you because in fact I had the information in my hands at the time that SAA was on a regular basis transporting military ordinance from Israel to South Africa, there was a to and fro traffic and if SAA chose to deny that, that was their problem. May I also tell you, for your information that Deon Storm who is also a pilot with SAA had exactly the same experience.
DR KLATZOW: Okay. Now I want to deal with another issue. Armscor is primarily involved in the production of military ordinance and matters closely related to military ordinance. I mean they donít make civilian hairdryers for instance?
MR HARE: They certainly donít make civilian hairdryers to my knowledge. They do make a range of civilian equipment. They make a range of items that have been, could quite probably be derivatives from some military product. They certainly operate in areas of commercial expertise and commercial competitively.
DR KLATZOW: The point that Iím trying to make is that we know that South Africa has a murky past. We know that arms dealers are not angels in terms of that murky past and we know that there was a holy war that was being fought in this country and that Armscor was part of that holy war.
And I want to put it to you that there would be no inhibition whatsoever on Armscorís behalf in doing whatever they needed to do to make that war work. And I want to suggest to you further that material that was brought in aboard the Helderberg was destined for Armscor because the stuff that was in the palate PR on the front of that aircraft was incapable of producing the fire which destroyed the aircraft and that the material that was aboard that aircraft was mis-declared and was in fact destined for Armscor and that it was that material which caused the loss of the Helderberg.
DR KLATZOW: I have only one last question. About, shortly after you joined SAA, a member of the operational staff, a member of staff of SAA had an altercation with you. And that altercation involved, shaking his hand in your face and saying, you know what is aboard the Helderberg. Do you remember that altercation?
DR KLATZOW: Did none of the staff members of SAA, a pilot in particular ever shake his hand in your face and say, Mr Hare you know what was aboard the Helderberg? Iím not suggesting you did but Iím suggesting that that incident took place.
CHAIRPERSON: Let me ask the question. When you say you have no recollection of the incident happening, are you saying the incident never happened? Or are you saying it may have happened except that you now have no recollection of it, you donít remember?
MR HARE: Commissioner I do not wish to appear to be ducking the question or anything like that. I certainly have no recollection of such an incident. If somebody says that such an incident occurred and can quote me chapter and verse and the occasion on which it occurred maybe my recollection is incomplete.
DR KLATZOW: I may very well be able to do that. I donít have it with me at the moment but I have a note in my personal notes where that allegation was made but having said that, it is the kind of incident that would be difficult to forget, if it occurred to you.
MR HARE: Certainly the press has taken us into that area with a whole lot of questions that have been posed to me as to why I moved employment and was in fact at SAA. Now let me initially say that that statement is incorrect, there is no unusual reason for my being at SAA. Had any such incident occurred, Iím pretty sure that I would have remembered such an incident, you know. It would seem that the kind of incident that one remember from the way you describe it.
DR KLATZOW: Iím not suggesting anything untoward about the fact that the incident occurred. I mean, the simple answer could be that the person involved may have been entirely mistaken and may have simply mistaken the fact that you had come from Armscor and implied a sinister reason for it. He might have been totally off the wall.
MR HARE: I donít remember the incident. I think that one has to accept that a lot of statements that were made concerning the incident, concerning the whole Helderberg situation were made under a vast amount of emotion. There were a number of people, including goods friends of mine who were on board the Helderberg.
MR HARE: I would certainly not have called it a regular basis. It may have been that there were other instances where I was not aware of his activity. In the particular case that I am aware of, it was really on a one off basis only.
MR HARE: I was certainly not aware of that. It would have been unusual I think because of the degree, the area of expertise that he was operating in. South Africa was not at the time producing the product in which he was a specialist.
MR HARE: For example. The computer company that Armscor operates, sells commercial computer systems. Theyíve been involved some time ago in the payment of pensions, using computer systems that were developed there.
MR HARE: That company was Infoplan. But I do believe that if you have a look you will find, and I canít recall specific instances but there are in fact and were throughout the period a number of commercial product derivatives of military manufactured items.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Ms Terreblanche. Well it remains for me to thank you Mr Hare for having taken the time to come out and assist the Commission in its endeavour to re-visit the whole Helderberg enquiry and try and find out if we are any where near establishing the truth of what really happened.
You must understand that we have got enquiries from a number of quarters, including an organisation called the Friends of the victims of Helderberg. Itís been twelve years since the event and itís an event that we had hoped and we possibly might be able to throw some further light on and it is when people like you are ready, even at short notice to come and share with us what they know or
MR HARE: Commissioner, may I thank you for paying me the compliment and may I also say that as I have said earlier, I truly believe that every single individual within the South African Airways would very dearly love to be able to get to the bottom of what caused the Helderberg incident but I also believe that every individual will offer you every assistance that they possibly can and will answer whatever question is possible in an attempt to get to find a solution as to the cause of the Helderberg incident.
CHAIRPERSON: Welcome Mr Willemse. I have explained very quickly to most witnesses that this is a Section 29 enquiry. What it means is it is an investigative enquiry. It is not a trial, itís not a tribunal, itís not disciplinary enquiry, no findings will be made. Itís an information gathering exercise.
It is held privately so you can safely regard everybody here to have been sworn to confidentiality and so also will the evidence that will be taken here to not be made public and that decision will be the decision of the Commission as and when certain requirements have been complied with.
We have translators who are also part of the Commission who are contracted to the Commission and who will be able to translate for us on any person who would prefer to take the evidence in English should you choose to give your evidence in Afrikaans. So you are entirely free to testify in the language you best would like to testify in.
We will not be disadvantaged thereby because as you will see there are listening devices which will assist us to listen simultaneously as you speak in to the English version of your evidence. So if you want to speak in Afrikaans, please feel free to do so.
Welcome to these proceedings and before you testify I will therefore ask Commissioner Glenda Wildschut who is to my left to swear you in. But let me introduce the members of the panel. She is Commissioner in the Reparations and Rehabilitationís Committee. I am Ntsebeza.
To my right is Mr Magadhla, Wilson, he is head of special investigations. He is also as you see a member of this panel. To the right is Ms Terreblanche, Chrystelle, who has investigated and has collected all information relevant to this hearing and with her is Dr David Klatzow who has been contracted to the Commission and who will give, will assist us in those technical aspects and in any of the aspects about this matter which is fairly familiar, having dealt with it on a substantial number of years thereafter. Ms Wildschut will therefore swear you in.
MS TERREBLANCHE: I think itís these computer spell checks that insist on these things some times. Weíve asked you to come and provide details of your role in SAA at the time of the Helderberg disaster, to explain SAAís role in terms of the investigation into the Helderberg disaster. To answer questions pertaining to the relationship between SAA and Armscor during the 1980ís and answer questions pertaining to SAAís relationship with airlines and cargo agents in Israel and Taiwan.
MR WILLEMSE: The question is that I should briefly explain what my career was with SAA. I was asked to transfer to SAA during 1979. At that stage I was a member of the legal advisors team and was known then as the South African Railways and Harbours and I fulfilled a very specific role there. I had to appear on behalf of the old Railways and Harbours before the National Transport Commission to look after the so-called competition between road and rail.
The reason why I asked to transfer to the airlines was because there was a commission of enquiry appointed at that time under the chairmanship of Justice Margo which had to look at the whole issue of a new airline policy for South Africa and the then deputy asked me to transfer to the airlines so that I could become a member of the Margo Commission itself, to advise them on the new aviation policy for South Africa.
What was at stake was mainly the open skies policy which had taken hold in America at that stage and I followed it and some particulars and I attended some of the hearings in Washington at that stage to find out what the impact of the so-called open skies policy would be in South Africa. That was chiefly my role. To advise the South African Airways and to help with the activities of the Margo Commission which extended over a couple of years and that was very briefly the reason for my transfer to the South African Airways. It was a very specific instruction which I had.
MR WILLEMSE: After the Margo Commission had been completed I acquired other responsibilities and I then moved in to the commercial side of the airlines and away from the pure legal side of matters. We used different titles initially. My title was trade director.
There were two of us and then we subdivided it into the director of marketing and director of planning. Subsequently we changed it to chief director international. At that stage I was mainly responsible for the international or the commercial side of international services of SAA. There was no clear dividing line between domestic activities and the international activities because we were in the process of developing those as two separate products and we said that the internal scenario was aimed at a very specific public market and internationally speaking the target market was very different and I was chiefly engaged in the development of the root structure of the international section of South African Airlines.
MR WILLEMSE: Yes. It was the total enterprise. But I must tell you that in the 1980ís there was very little emphasis on cargo in the sense that we didnít have a specific cargo section and the reason for that was as a result of all the detours that we had to use due to sanctions existing at the time and we had very little cargo capacity which we could utilise on our planes.
South African Airways at that stage was mainly a passenger enterprise. So the emphasis was on the development of routes for passenger purposes and where cargo could be added that was regarded as a bonus. From South Africa there was very little cargo but it was mainly perishables which depended very much on the season and the main route was towards Europe.
MR WILLEMSE: No. The cargo which we carried was any commercial cargo which we could obtain in the market at competitive prices to bring it in, well in both directions. In other words, in to South Africa and from South Africa. The sanctions to which I am referring is this, the fact that SAA could not fly along the normal commercial routes which our competitors used.
You will remember that since 1963, that was before my time, we could not use the shortest routes across Africa. So all our routes to Europe were via the West Coast of Africa or the stop at Sol Island. At some point most of our flights stopped.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Yes, now we understand that, I just want to make sure about this question, were you ever aware of the fact that cargo was carried or placed on SAA flights which were actually not destined for South Africa or which South Africa could actually not export due to sanctions?
DR KLATZOW: Thank you Mr Willemse. Do you have any objection if I ask my questions in English? And if you have any difficulty, you may just ask me. Mr Willemse, your duty with SAA was a legal advisory and a general commercial advisory capacity, was that not correct?
MR WILLEMSE: No, I was not intimately involved. Let me explain it to you. I was not at all involved in the investigation into the Helderberg disaster. It was an aspect which was dealt with purely on the technical side at the airport. The only role which I fulfilled during and after the accident was that I and my team of marketing and sales people, Iím talking about passenger sales, passenger marketing, we set up an office at Johannesburg, at the head office and our sole function was to transmit information to the families and friends of the passengers who had died in the disaster.
That was our main purpose. To actually effect contact with the next of kin. To keep them informed regarding the progress and Iím specifically referring to the first couple of days after the accident took place, to contact as many of these as possible because we had the passenger lists and the arrangement which we made was that we sent our sales people to the next of kin as far as we could trace them in South Africa to have contact with them on behalf of SAA, to tell them what the position was and also to convey our condolences and to find out whether there was anything that we could assist them with at that stage.
MR WILLEMSE: Itís possible but that is not within my field of knowledge. But it is possible if he is a tour operator and as far as I know he is established in South Africa, then you would assume that he would do business with SAA.
MR WILLEMSE: Yes. Itís difficult to say, if that is the person that I am thinking of now then, Iím speculating now, I have to add, I did meet Flippie Look once during a meeting which we had with SAPA, now that was quite a number of years ago. This was at some place outside Johannesburg. SAPA is the South African Pilots Association.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Yes, but if I told you what he told me as to what he told you, maybe that will help you. He said that in June 1985 he landed at Tel Aviv Airport and whilst they were still in the plane looking or watching a movie, the cargo was off-loaded and he peeped out and there was a crate which had been broken and he said that he saw a missile inside this crate and this was confirmed to him by the freight or cargo controller at Ben Gurion Airport, the SAA man there.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Exactly the same happened to him. Mr Look said that he expressed his concern about the situation to you and said that what happened then was that he had hoped that you would be able to explain this, clarify matters. But he was later called in and told that Mr Van Veer and Mr Mitchell had gone to Armscor and obtained assurances that that would not happen again. Can you recall this conversation?
MR WILLEMSE: Once again as far as I can remember youíre talking about Ď85 so itís a long time ago, I canít remember, I would have to go and check up whether I was in Mauritius in Ď85 but as far as I can remember there was no such a conversation with me. Iím not saying that it isnít so, I just canít remember it. And I also canít remember that anybody had a conversation with me or expressed concern about cargo which we were conveying on SAA planes. Cargo had a very low profile in the Ď80ís, on our flights.
MS TERREBLANCHE: You donít have to give a definite figure or even a definite percentage, but can you recall how much of your cargo in the mid Ď80ís came from Taiwan and Israel? What percentage of your cargo went along those routes?
MR WILLEMSE: Any cargo which became available on any route where the tariff was worthwhile we would have accepted that. As far as I can remember our biggest concentration of cargo was from Germany into South Africa because I know we had a very active team and as far as I can remember Germany was the only South African Airways depot under the control of the Germans and which is very active in obtaining cargo.
The system in Europe was that they moved cargoes by means of trucks and they concentrated on certain stations so if you ask me what were the places where there was the highest concentration of cargo then as far as I know and can remember it was from Frankfurt and also from Italy. We had a considerable amount of freight from Italy as a result of the fact that they used trucks extensively.
MR WILLEMSE: That means cargo which generates a high tariff. I would compare that instance with the following. From South Africa we often sat with cargoes of perishable goods such as flowers etc., and at that stage it was a very low tariff cargo. It was subsidised to quite a high degree by the Department of Agriculture so the income which SAA got from that was very low.
And it was important for an airline to carry cargo which had a small volume but high weight because thatís where you made your money. So if Armscor was a client offering cargo falling into that category then you would rather have conveyed that and perhaps rejected flowers and perishables. But that would have applied to any other supplier.
MS WILDSCHUT: Policy, yes, particularly airline policy and you were looking at open skies policy and so on from the US. And is it true to say that somebody whose involved in policy would be involved where the airline is experiencing difficulties such as accidents and so on that one would then want to re-look at what has happened, particularly with accidents to inform policy?
MR WILLEMSE: The policy which I was looking at was totally different to for instance safety policy because airline policy and aviation policy is something quite independent and very specialised. It was very important for us in South Africa to understand what was happening globally.
The two things which were very closely interconnected were the following. What was the policy in other countries in respect of aviation policy and that is reflected in your bilateral air agreements and was important for us to understand what the policy would be of our department of transport and especially civil aviation, how would they structure our air agreements in future.
So for an airline in a country it is extremely important to understand that so that the government and the department donít decide overnight, for instance that it is now in the interests of the country to move towards an open skies policy whilst the infrastructure is not prepared for that step.
As against the situation with a disaster or an accident like the Helderberg, that is a completely different field and I would like to answer you as follows. The reason why I did not become involved at all in the Helderberg disaster was that after the accident took place I played a very limited role because I was looking at the marketing side of things and I was managing the affairs of the next of kin.
All the other legal aspects, for instance in dealing with the finalisation of claims, claims instituted by the next of kin, negotiations with our insurers. There were several sets of negotiations involved. The settlement of claims in South Africa and also in other countries where passengers came from, such as Japan, Taiwan, Korea, I think there were passengers as far afield as England and the United States.
This was all dealt with by the office of the chief legal advisor in Transnet itself. So from the airlinesí side we didnít interfere at all. The chief legal advisor played that part and I was no longer part of his team and he dealt with the attorneys of the insurers because you immediately have to involve them when there is an accident and they, Iím referring you to the insurers in turn then appointed their own attorneys in the respective countries and instructed them to start up with the negotiations with the next of kin with a view to settlement of claims.
My impression was that the most important aspect here was to see whether in relation to the claims flowing from the Helderberg disaster whether this could be finalised as soon as possible in context of the international convention governing claims. And thatís how the matter was dealt with so I was not at all involved in that aspect because I was no longer functioning as a legal advisor. I hope that answers your question.
MS WILDSCHUT: A question I was going to ask and that was about claims, insurance claims and so on. Are you saying that the insurance claims were not handled by SAA but by some other department and so which department, if you can just repeat that for me?
MR WILLEMSE: Yes. It was the office of the chief legal advisor of, at that stage we were not called Transnet, I think we were called the South African Transport Services. So in other words we had the legal advisor, with his team and he took over that function on behalf of Transnet of the company as such, well we werenít even a company at that time but of SATS, and he co-ordinated all the liaison with the insurers and with their attorneys and their various legal representatives.
MR WILLEMSE: So he served as, letís call it, as a central point to then act into South African Airways and then from there into the legal advisors of the various countries. So I know that there was interaction between his office for instance and our offices in Taiwan and in Tokyo and all over the show.
MR WILLEMSE: No. That was the function of the insurers as such. We didnít interfere. Their liaison was strictly with the office of the chief legal advisor and he would inform us of the progress that they were making. Itís quite a structured environment in which you operate in an airline and with airline claims because you are dealing with a Warsaw Treaty which places a limitation on that which can be claimed and that applies to all international cargo or flight and then you have certain protocols which pushes up the amount that can be claimed.
So, in the case of the Helderberg, if I remember correctly, the maximum amount which could be paid to any passenger or next of kin was defined in the conditions adhering to your ticket which said that the liability of the airline is subject to the following international treaties as amended by the Hague Protocol and whatever conventions which were applicable.
So, it was quite neatly circumscribed and all that had to be determined by the insurers was actually the ultimate quantum, the amount which had to be paid out and we found that in the case of the Helderberg, the insurers were prepared to go for the maximum amount that could be paid out because I think that the dilemma which they faced was that once they started settling in a country such as Taiwan for instance, the Japanese and the Koreans would expect exactly the same settlement to make sure that there was no discrimination.
Because one countryís attitude was that his citizens were no less valuable than the citizens of another country but these amounts were all determined by those international conventions and I canít remember whether the amounts were calculated in dollars or whether it was SDR or what but it was easily converted.
MR WILLEMSE: No. There was no difference. That is the point I am trying to make. The settlements which were concluded made very certain that there was no distinction made between passengers so there was parity in the offers made in terms of settlement to next of kin.
So unfortunately I canít talk about the detail because I wasnít involved but what I do know as a result of conversations that took place was that from our side, from the airlines side, we said that we should try to not cause any delays so that the negotiations as far as settlements were concerned could commence as soon as possible so that the next of kin not gain the impression that the airline was unwilling to pay out.
MS WILDSCHUT: And then you had employees of the company who are also victims of this disaster, particularly the crew and so on. Now in terms of SAA and insurance paid out to employees. Can you explain to us what happened there?
MR WILLEMSE: Yes. Iím not aware of the details but I know that as far as our crew was concerned, the former managing director, he personally visited all the next of kin of our crew. I was not involved in that. I was only involved in the next of kin of the passengers. But I know that he made a point of visiting the crewís next of kin. He visited the pilotsí wives and also the cabin crewís wives and next of kin and as far as I can recall there was a different set of rules applicable to payments to be made to next of kin of people who were actually working and were on duty whilst a disaster took place, itís different from a passenger with an ordinary ticket.
MR WILLEMSE: I am aware that long after the accident there was speculation at one stage in the newspapers. I cannot recall exactly when it was but there was speculation in the newspapers that there had been dangerous goods on board. That would surely have been about four to five years, it might have been more recent than that. I am aware of that yes. I read that.
MR MAGADHLA: Are you saying your knowledge of such would have been confined to it having been expressed by newspapers and others whereas in this case there was actually the wife of the pilot who also complained, would you have regarded that as part of the rumour or the conspiracy by those people, the papers and others?
MR WILLEMSE: Iím personally not aware of as you say the wife of a pilot who complained about dangerous cargo. All that I can tell you is that I am aware of the fact that there was speculation about this in the newspapers, about the fact that dangerous goods were on board. I donít even know if they used the expression dangerous goods on board, specifically the Helderberg.
I am also not aware of the fact that there was a specific person, such as, for example the wife of a pilot who spoke to me or anyone else or where I was present and said that there were dangerous goods on board that aeroplane, no.
CHAIRPERSON: Thank you Ms Terreblanche. Mr Willemse, thank you very much for having come and for having taken the trouble to come even with the shortest of notices and we value the information that you have been able to share with us. You are excused.
CHAIRPERSON: Are we ready to start? Mr Nadel, thank you very much for being here. This is a closed enquiry held in terms of Section 29 of the Act. All evidence that should be taken under oath remains confidential and will so remain until the Commission releases it subject to the requirements of the Act.
So everybody who is here has the permission to be here by reason of the fact that they are either invited to be here or have been subpoenaed to be here or are employees of the Commission. I was going to ask Commissioner Glenda Wildschut to swear you in before you testify but she is not here, she is otherwise engaged.
She forms part of the panel. She is in the Rehabilitationís and Reparations Committee. I am also one of the Commissioners who is going to be, who is chairing this panel. I am in the Human Rights Violations Committee. Mr Magadhla will assist us in the panel. He is sitting to my right and is a member of the investigative unit.
The investigator who has done most of the investigative work, in fact actually all of it, is Chrystelle Terreblanche who is sitting to our right and she has Dr Klatzow, David Klatzow who is a forensic expert and who has been contracted to the Commission to assist us in the presentation of the evidence.
In the interest of progress I will therefore swear you in, if you can stand. There is a red button there which you will press whenever you speak, thank you. Now what are your full names for the record Mr Nadel?
MS TERREBLANCHE: Thank you Mr Chair. You may sit, thank you Mr Nadel. Thanks for coming. Mr Nadel we have invited you to come here to just tell us about your role on that fateful night at the ZUR centre, Springbok Radio Centre at the former Jan Smuts Airport. We believe you have come all the way from Argentina and we are very thankful to you for making that time. Commissioner Ntsebeza I think that Dr Klatzow will do all the questioning in this one.
MR NADEL: I was responsible for overseeing the flight operations, the radio station ZUR, as well as if and when any crew needed flight plans. This job entailed day shift as well as night shift. Obviously the functions at night were different to the functions during the day.
MR NADEL: He was what we call the operations controller. He would fill out the logs of the movements for during the day. The night shift was basically there to prepare the documentation for the next day as well as to complete the logs for the flights that were still flying. Domestic flights that is.
DR KLATZOW: I want to return to Pete Pelser just now. But I want to put a proposition to you before I do so. The function of ZUR, it is an expensive operation, employing full time staff and occupying a room and a radio set up and a considerable amount of administration. It is not a Mickey mouse operation, if I could put it to you that way, has a function. What is itís function?
MR NADEL: Not necessarily no. Depending on the nature of the problem they would be talking to whichever air traffic control centre at the time and they would decide whether it was important enough to call us. If I may just mention that the radio station is not a requirement or prerequisite by any means, itís a, it was a luxury that the airline had but it was never an issue that it was legally required that the aircraft had to communicate.
DR KLATZOW: Nobody has ever suggested to you that it was legal requirement but nonetheless it was in existence and it was an expensive operation and it was not there simply to monitor the number of face towels aboard the aircraft and whether or not the hostees were running out of water and that you needed, it had more serious functions in that it was to keep track of South African Airways fleet during a difficult period in their history?
DR KLATZOW: But sooner or later there would have been communication. And I accept fully that they would have communicated with the nearest FIR but at some stage it is likely that they would tell you. What is the point of ZUR being informed for instance that they had taken off uneventfully?
MR NADEL: Well that was the normal operation. You would normally get a call top of climb and then during the course of the flight and then again at the descent. That is if the aircraft could communicate weather wise as far as static. We all know that radios are not.
MR NADEL: I think at this particular time yes. If I may mention and it was mentioned at the Margo Commission that the radio station had actually had a lightning strike, some time before, so communications were not up to standard at the time.
DR KLATZOW: Weíll get to the weather in a minute. Because weather is a changing phenomenon and the aircraftís position in relation to that weather is a changing phenomenon. Are there standing orders which govern the way in which you operate ZUR?
DR KLATZOW: The evidence that was led at the Margo Commission was that if the aircraft was not contacted, it was a serious matter and that you would go to considerable lengths to try and contact them?
DR KLATZOW: Well Iím going to tell you what he told me and if necessary he will tell this Commission. He said that you identified that you were there together with Mr Gavin Dick and that there was a third person whom you would not identify.
DR KLATZOW: Listen to the question very carefully. He asked you who was there and you said to him, there was myself and Gavin Dick and there was a third person whom we will call Mr X and in his report and in his contemporaneous notes he refers to this person as Mr X.
MR NADEL: Well at the time I felt thereís no reason for me to talk to somebody that has no authority as far as questioning me about the speculation that was going on at the time and the rumours that were so rife. He came to see me and he had no, as I say authority from anybody, it wasnít an official enquiry so I didnít feel it was necessary to talk to him.
DR KLATZOW: Right. Well letís examine that in a little more detail. The evidence given at the Margo Commission was to the effect that the tape had been either overtaped inadvertently or lost, is that correct?
DR KLATZOW: Now letís look at the first possibility. If the tape had been overtaped, you would have been able to go to somebody and say Iím sorry here is the tape. Itís been overtaped. I donít know how it got overtaped but there is the tape.
MR NADEL: What was the question? I donít believe I was in the position to investigate that kind of thing due to the magnitude of the occurrence and the people that were very much more senior to me that were involved with the case of the day.
CHAIRPERSON: Did you ever talk to anyone who was senior and hazard an opinion? Because I see now it possibly was a question where you would be hazarding an opinion, did you, what Iím trying to say is, here was a situation where a tape, letís look at it being overtaped at the moment, where there was talk of it being overtaped and it happens to be the tape which was from ZUR with which you were associated and especially around the days, I mean the date in question.
Did you do anything in order for that sort of speculation to be dispelled by saying why donít you offer the tape and say here is the tape and let the Margo Commission have the tape so that we can get this particular point out of the way?
MR NADEL: Mr Commissioner as I said, at the time I was obviously too junior to be involved with that type of thing. If the tape was in anybodyís possession I believe somebody should have given it or handed it in to the enquiry, the Board of enquiry.
DR KLATZOW: The most sinister interpretation possible had been placed on that tape? In fact it was rumoured at the time, it was said at the time that there was a conversation between ZUR and Captain Uys claiming to know something about the cargo and demanding permission to land?
DR KLATZOW: Did you ever seek to attempt to dispel this by taking the tape or did anybody to your knowledge take the tape that had been overtaped and show it to the Margo Commission and say Iím sorry, we made a mistake?
DR KLATZOW: Well Iím telling you that if you think that itís in the Margo Commission I will advise you to look at the Margo Commission and tell me where it is but I would suggest to you that it is not in the Margo Commission.
MR NADEL: I have in front of me a copy which I believe Civil Aviation has as well of the South African Airways Emergency Alarm Procedure. Itís a list of names, if an emergency is declared we will go through the list, call the people.
MR NADEL: Iíll start on the first page, not necessarily in the order that it was done, spoken to. Captain Deon Storm, Mr F Van Zyl Smit, Captain Mickey Mitchell and I can give you the time I actually called him, at 0040.
MR NADEL: So Captain Mitchell was called at 0040, I called Captain Dries, I called Mr Davidson, Mr Britz, Mr Kate, Mr Willemse, Mr Botha, Mr Verster, Mr Roux ...[inaudible], Dr Van Der Spuy, Mr Klaase.
DR KLATZOW: Mr Nadel, you are under oath and I want to remind you of your reply to my previous question. I put to you that on a previous occasion you had stated to a man that you remembered Van Der Veer, Mitchell, Deal and Willemse being present at ZUR. And when I put that to you stated, under oath that you remembered that they were there.
MR NADEL: As I say, I had been spoken to by many people. There was a lot of speculation, the newspapers were full of it and to tell you the truth, I was getting a little sick and tired of the reporters.
DR KLATZOW: Yes, but your actions in fact went further towards promoting the rumour than to have been open and said, tape record me, I have nothing to hide. Here it is. And yet you refused to allow him to do that.
DR KLATZOW: But you see itís inexplicable Mr Nadel, I want to put it to you that if you didnít want to be misquoted, the right way would have been to allow him to make a note. As it is he did make a note. He went straight to his car and made a note. And the note that he made was as follows. And Iím going to read it to you.
"Mr Nadel said that in addition to Van Der Veer, Mickey Mitchell was also present as was Jimmy Deal and Tienie Willemse. Nadel could not elaborate as to why these persons were there, he later asked me not to mention the fact that Willemse was present at the facility."
MR NADEL: No. I donít think itís a coincidence. As I said earlier on, I called the people and this is eleven years ago, I cannot recall who was actually there and who wasnít there. I called the people out and they either gone to the head office building or to engineering or to flight operations.
MR NADEL: He said to me, thereís problems with communication on the evening and he hasnít spoken to, not only that aircraft I believe there could well have been other aircraft that he hadnít spoken to either and I said to him itís not a problem.
MR NADEL: He came back to me I would believe. I cannot recall. But he possibly did come back and said heís having problems with communications and I probably said to him, given the fact that the communications were bad, itís not a problem. It happened on many many occasions before.
DR KLATZOW: And yet other evidence which has been led before various people and commissions and enquiries into this have led us to believe that the communications on that particular route were good most of the time, 85% plus at the time?
DR KLATZOW: Now, Mr Dick came to you and he said, I canít raise them and you said thatís fine. What would have been the position if the aircraft had experienced some kind of dire trouble and had to ditch at sea?
DR KLATZOW: Well, letís look at it. Letís look at the possibilities. If you had said to Gavin Dick at ZUR, look itís not a problem, I mean this is routine, this is standard. There would be no need for him to ask you what he needed to tell Margo?
DR KLATZOW: Mr Nadel, on what basis could you make that suggestion. You were his senior man at the station that night. You were the man in charge. He came to his officer in charge, said, I couldnít contact the Helderberg. His officer in charge said, itís not serious, this is nothing, no big deal. Why would he be uncertain about that. That is the thing that all junior officers love, to be able to place the responsibility on the next man up.
CHAIRPERSON: But wouldnít the obvious thing for him to say to you is look I feel very intimidated but Iím going to speak what Iím saying. But why would he have to ask you what must he say? Why must he seek to know from you what he has to say except that you know as the suggestion is being made, there was possibly something that you felt has or has not got to be said to the Commission?
DR KLATZOW: Mr Nadel, Jimmy Mitton will come under oath and say that that is what he heard, overheard between you and Gavin Dick. And I want to put it to you, for your comment, that there is only one explanation and that is that the conversation that you claim to have had with Gavin Dick that night at ZUR did not occur?
DR KLATZOW: Well then Iím inviting you to give me a better explanation as to why Gavin Dick would ask you what to say to the Margo Commission when it was quite clear that all he had to tell was the truth, if that conversation did take place.
DR KLATZOW: He was the next in the chain up? Youíre also aware that that tape, whether it contained information or not would have been an important tape in relation to the investigation. Even if it was to negative certain allegations?
DR KLATZOW: Well, whoever took the tape and I want to take you up on what you just said, would have taken the tape, not just to leave it lying around. He would have placed it in a position of safety, wouldnít he?
MR NADEL: I wasnít invited. I was called by the chief executive to answer one question which I answered honestly. He asked me, was there anybody of higher authority in ZUR talking to the aircraft and I said no.
DR KLATZOW: Did ZUR have the ability to patch through radio conversations with other senior members of SAA at the time. If thereíd been a problem could you have contacted Mr Van Der Veer and put him on the line?
DR KLATZOW: And therefore because it is a half hour recorded message which goes over itself and records only the last half hour, it means that that cockpit voice recorder ceased to function closer to Taipei than Mr Margo would have had us believe.
DR KLATZOW: And therefore if the tape recorder recorded that dinner because itís a half hour recording, it must have ceased to function within a short period after, while dinner was being served, which is shortly after take off, rather than at top of descent?
DR KLATZOW: If Uys had had a fire on board, is it not likely that he would have, at that stage, outside Taipei, two hours, three hours from Taipei, is it not likely that he would have sought to land that aircraft?
DR KLATZOW: So he would have landed the aircraft and risked foreign countries who were hostile to South Africa searching the aircraft to find military contraband aboard. Do you think he would have done that without contacting you?
DR KLATZOW: So he would have landed willy nilly and placed the entire future of the airline in jeopardy because if that had become public knowledge to the authorities at Bombay or wherever these places were along the route it would have effectively have taken South Africa out of the skies.
DR KLATZOW: And you think Uys would have risked sinking South African Airways having thought that he had put the fire out, do you think he would have risked South African Airways merely to comply with a regulation?
DR KLATZOW: No. Letís get back to that and deal with that because I want to deal with your logic. If thereíd been a fire on board and weíve looked at the logic as to why we believe there was a fire on board outside Taipei and youíve agreed with that logic?
DR KLATZOW: If that fire had been extinguished. The standing regulations require you to go down and examine the aircraft because it is possible that major structural could have been done to the aircraft by the fire?
DR KLATZOW: But letís examine it Mr Nadel. Youíre ducking the question. Captain Uys had a standing instruction. That instruction is clear. If you have a fire, put it out and then go down. We know he didnít do that and we know that there is a great likelihood that the first occurred six hours or so earlier than the Margo Commission would have us believe?
DR KLATZOW: Now, can you think of a reason why he didnít go down and follow the eminently sensible regulations which all pilots know about and all pilots would adhere to because there is nothing that is feared more than a fire in the air?
DR KLATZOW: No no Iíve given you no speculation. Iíve told you certain facts. And those facts are not speculation. Those facts are that thereís a discussion about dinner. That the tape recording has a certain period which it tape records and that it stopped functioning as a result of the fire. Thereís none of that thatís speculation.
DR KLATZOW: Mr Nadel, youíre ducking the question. Margo accepted the official recording means whatever Margo accepted and Margo accepted that there was a discussion about dinner prior to the failure of that tape recorder. Are you going to deny that there was a discussion about dinner?
DR KLATZOW: Right. Now that must mean and there is no other explanation. I want to put it to you that that tape recorder must have recorded that outside Taipei when dinner was served and ceased functioning shortly thereafter?
CHAIRPERSON: I think what the proposition has been or the perusing that has been made was that we must logically accept that whatever the time period was after the aircraft had departed from Taipei, whether it was an hour or two hours or even three hours, that recording, if it is a recording of dinner being served must be an indication that it was done closer to the time that the aircraft left Taipei than closer to the time that the aircraft was about to descend on Mauritius.
DR KLATZOW: Now, can you think of a single reason why Mr Uys, having put out the fire would not go downstairs and check that his aircraft was indeed safe and indeed check that he was not going to have a tragedy such as the one which unfolded outside Mauritius?
DR KLATZOW: And he would have kept trying with the contingencies of the operation that he was dealing with but clearly it was, the aircraft was serviceable enough for him to make it from wherever he was at that time to just outside, one hundred and something nautical miles outside Mauritius, there would have been some opportunity for him to raise ZUR?
DR KLATZOW: Now what you are postulating is that for over three quarters of the flight of that aircraft the communications were so bad that no possibility existed that he could raise ZUR. Is that not far fetched?
DR KLATZOW: Those things are incidentally the following. There is a procedure that is correct and this normally gets done and if that fails then we contact by any other international station like Speedbird, London and ask them to contact the aircraft. Is that not true?
MR NADEL: As I mentioned earlier on, I think there was two airlines in the world that had this facility, British Airways and South African Airways. No other airlines have this facility. Itís not a legal requirement. The aircraft talks to air traffic control centres throughout and they are the people that normally initiate any search and rescue if there is a problem.
DR KLATZOW: And the period of non contact with a plane when it is due to contact you once every hour or hour and a half, four or five hours goes by and you canít pick them up however hard you try and this doesnít perturb you?
MR NADEL: Because this is not a, as I said earlier on itís not a requirement by airlines. Thereís two airlines in the world that have this facility. If you look at all the other mega carriers, they donít have this facility.
DR KLATZOW: With great respect Mr Nadel if the duty of the airline is to call you and if there are instructions to call that aircraft back if you canít raise or if they donít raise you and that fails to happen for five hours you are not perturbed by it?
MR NADEL: Mr Du Toit was actually a strange gentleman. And he would come on duty and sign three or four pages with the idea that we would be filling them in as he goes along. And that is the explanation that I can give you.
DR KLATZOW: We deal with another issue for the moment. How would you describe your job there. Would you describe it as a senior position in the airline, would you describe it as a fairly junior position at that time?
CHAIRPERSON: You are not, with respect Mr, you are not being asked to speculate. I mean you are being asked to give an indication. I think there is a point here and I am sure you will appreciate in due course. Unless you have a very good reason why you should not give us an indication or an explanation but we are certainly not asking you to speculate what your salary is.
You know what your earnings are. You know what your earnings then were and as I say there is a point that he wants to converse with you. So if you could be frank about your earnings and the difference between your earnings between then and now, it might assist us to get over this point. I wouldnít like us to waste more time on the issue. So if you can give us any indication of what your earnings were then and what your earnings are now, then we will quickly get over this point.
MR NADEL: Okay. If I can just go back a moment then. From my position at the time I moved through the ranks not very quickly. Reasonably slowly. It wasnít from one day to the next that I became manager for Miami. I became manager for Miami in 1992.
MR NADEL: If I can give you a brief history of my career path I would be more than happy if you would like to hear it. After the Helderberg I was still in flight operations. I moved to what we call route clearance unit which was a sideways move, meaning that I didnít have to work weekends. I actually took a drop in salary because there was no Sunday time and overtime worked.
In 1990 they advertised in the national press as well as internally within the airline for trainee overseas managers. I applied for the job in 1990 along with 160 others from all walks of life, within the airline, from outside of the airline. I went through a process of psychometric testing. I did management courses and was eventually invited in January 1991 to be interviewed.
I got through the interview, there were ten of us left. Eventually two people decided on their own to step down from the training course and I then proceeded to go on a years training course as an overseas manager. I did various functional, non functional management courses. Functional courses within the airline, reservations, ticketing, sales, marketing.
The functional courses, and thatís on record, it can be obtained, I didnít receive anything lower than 90+ percentage for the examinations. I was successful after the years training course and I was selected out of the eight. Five of us were eventually sent as trainee managers abroad. I spent nine months as a trainee manager before I was eventually promoted to manager in Miami.
I started Miami from zero ground base. We had one flight a week. We had no infrastructure at all. I set it up. After five years we were flying five times a week. Miami grew to be the most successful. The No. 1 route in our world-wide network in terms of revenue, load factors etc. So Iím a little concerned that the speculation is that I got this promotion because of what I know and what Iím not prepared to discuss with anybody else and I think I earned it through merit.
DR KLATZOW: Mr Nadel weíre not for one moment doubting your ability. Weíre merely saying that your rise in the light of what occurred and in the light of your original position is meteoric to say the least. Now whether itís meteoric because of what you know or meteoric because of your extraordinary abilities, I have not speculated on.
CHAIRPERSON: But then I think I must say, sitting from where Iím sitting, it will assist us in order to be either accept or dispel the speculation if we donít get the impression that you are evasive about your wage levels.
CHAIRPERSON: I think in the confidentiality of this room and in this enquiry if a question is put to you, how much were you earning at the time, how much are you earning now, then we can be placed in a position where we are able to compare and see if we can make something out of it. Thatís my only concern you know that as you were saying you donít want to speculate about your wage, earning levels, I was slightly becoming uncomfortable because I knew that the same sort of questions were put for instance to one of your seniors and he was asked for a comment and I think in your own interest if you were candid about this and if you accepted that though it is a private matter but it will be confidentially treated, in your own interests.
MR NADEL: Mr Chairman thank you. Obviously an overseas managerís position is a highly sought after position in terms of your overseas posting, the environment you stay in, the added benefits that you get in terms of foreign currency, my salary in Miami was 50 000 US dollars. Now everybody is going to convert that to South African Rands and say, the guys a millionaire.
In actual fact thatís not true. If you take the cost of living abroad, I think we can all do our maths. Itís not a mega salary to be earning. My salary in South Africa was obviously South African Rand and I must be very honest with you, I cannot recall what my salary was but it took four years, four and a half years to get from the fateful day to Miami.
DR KLATZOW: Thank you Mr Nadel. Now earlier on I dealt with the issue of standing orders with you and you said that if Mr Du Toit said that there were standing orders and that there was a standing instruction, that he was mistaken and that there was no such thing?
"I presume we all have our own way of working but the standing order is between one and a half and two hours, up to two hours is acceptable.
DR KLATZOW: Now I did not have the advantage at the Margo enquiry of seeing your demeanour in the witness box. But Mr Southwood did. Mr Southwood put it to you very bluntly that you were lying. He said you are making up what you are telling this commission. Why would he do that?
DR KLATZOW: Let us go through the problem that we have with your evidence. And I want to deal with something else before I do that. Were there any other things, any other records made on that tape of problems experienced by aircraft that evening?
DR KLATZOW: Letís assume for instance an aeroplane had an engine failure. It would be the sort of thing that they would phone back and say guys weíve had an engine failure, do you think you could get a spare engine up here?
DR KLATZOW: Let me tell you the problem that I have with your evidence Mr Nadel, is this. A fire occurs on board that aircraft. The available evidence strongly suggests that it occurred early in the flight. During the period of your tenure at ZUR or just before youíve conceded and agreed with me that it is something which they would likely have spoken to ZUR if it had occurred then.
Youíve agreed with me that the correct thing for the pilot to do would have been to go down and have the aircraft checked. We accept and itís common cause that that never happened. You expect me to believe that the pilot would have made the decision to continue flying despite all airline regulations and all flying regulations and all common sense on his own bat?
DR KLATZOW: Youíre saying he never, youíre saying he never contacted you? We know he went on flying. There is only one inference and that is that he made the decision without referral to base to go on flying after that fire?
MR NADEL: I can state categorically, as I have done before, that the aircraft did not speak to ZUR and/or to anybody else to my knowledge. And if it did and if there was something untoward I would believe Dick should have told me and if he didnít tell me, he was keeping something from me, and as I say, from my side I can categorically state that the aircraft never called.
DR KLATZOW: Mr Nadel, youíre missing the question. I want to put to you a series of improbabilities in your evidence. And it is very easy to categorically deny something but I want to put it to you that your denial rings hollow. And I want to tell you why it rings hollow. It rings hollow for a number of reasons which I have given to you, all of which are based on fact, not on speculation.
And I started to give you those. And those include the fact that the likelihood with which youíve agreed is that the fire occurred early in the flight, if the dinner is there. Youíve agreed and youíve read that Margo, official transcript has a record of the dinner on the flight. Youíve agreed and the Margo enquiry has accepted that the flight recorder stopped because of fire.
Youíve agreed that that is most unlikely that that could have been outside Mauritius. Youíve agreed that the most sensible thing to do and would have complied with the regulations was for Uys to have gone down and have the aircraft checked. Youíve agreed that he didnít do that. And if we are to believe your evidence we must believe that he did all of that off his own bat without checking with ZUR?
DR KLATZOW: No, the issue is about whether there was a tape recording that night. And to cap it all, Mr Nadel, the vital tape recording that covers that specific period of time inexplicably finds its way out of ZUR, never to see the light of day again. And you wonder why there is rumour and speculation. You wonder why it is?
DR KLATZOW: That is absolutely. And there is good reason for that speculation. And there is good reason for the negative inference. And yet you give us a version which is so inherently improbable that it is difficult to believe. And in addition youíve given us a version which not only I find improbable but Mr Southwood at the original Margo enquiry found improbable to the extent that he accused you of lying.
Youíve given us a version relating to the conversation that you had with Mr Dick when you yourself have agreed that had he had that conversation with you, there would be no reason for him to ask you at the hearing what he needed to say. It was there for him to tell the enquiry. The truth, the truth is I was told by my superior officer not to bother about it.
I want to put it to you Mr Nadel that your versions are so inherently improbable that they should be rejected. And I want to put it to you that your fencing over the years with people who genuinely wanted to find out. The referral to Mr X, your demand that people not take down a statement when ostensibly your reason was to prevent yourself from being misquoted. And you then did the very thing that would ensure that you were misquoted.
DR KLATZOW: Well, I would like you to do better than to simply say that it is true. Iíd like you to give me a reason why the Commission should believe you. Because Iíve given you cogent arguments why it is that what youíve told us is a tissue of lies.
DR KLATZOW: Mr Nadel the last person who said that, in this country at a commission were the people who later were found to be the perpetrators of the hit squad activities. That statement is not dissimilar from the statements made by Eugene De Kock and his band of merry men. I am asking you for a reason to believe you. Iím not asking for a bald denial. Iím asking for a reason in the teeth of cogent argument why it is that this commission should believe what youíve told us.
MR NADEL: Firstly, I donít want to be associated with the previous people you spoke about, I donít think this is a political issue at all. This is a very sensitive issue. Itís an issue where a lot of people got hurt, a lot of people are still hurting. I for one have a lot of rumours thrown around that come back to me, a lot of speculation.
I havenít enjoyed this, reading about these things in the newspaper when I know full well that a lot of it is or most of it is pure speculation. The issues of the Gavin Dick and the Etienne Du Toit, I donít believe a copy of that so-called standing order that they are talking about has ever come to light. If it was available at the time, it could have been subpoenaed.
This came up in the Margo Commission enquiry and Iíll stick with that. The document that I gave you is the only thing that was on file regarding making contact with aircraft. At the end of the day I know that I was not aware of any conversation between the aircraft and/or any senior member. There was no senior person in flight operations on the night. I personally went through that list calling people as you can see.
So, maybe the misquotes of the Margo then and the Southwoods and those issues are issues that have come up again and thatís possibly why youíre basing your accusation that you believe Iím not telling the truth.
DR KLATZOW: He said, you would just ignore the arrangement, you would ignore the standing order, why. I wouldnít say ignore it. I went by past experience as far as this route is concerned. Why didnít you tell Southwood? Why didnít you tell Margo that there was no standing order? Why did you accept that there was a standing order at the Margo enquiry?
If there was no standing order Mr Nadel, you would have said to him, Judge, Lord, there is no standing order, there was nothing for me to ignore. Why didnít you say that? You said I didnít ignore it. I went by past experience.
DR KLATZOW: Itís almost time for lunch. May I invite you to read through your evidence at the Margo Commission and I will complete my questions to you after lunch. And if you can point that out to me I would be very grateful.
DR KLATZOW: Iím not asking you to recall. There is a full transcript of the Margo enquiry here which I will make available to you during lunch. Would you like to find the point at where you said there are no standing instructions?
MR NADEL: Regarding the issue of standing orders, thereís no indication that I refuted that with the original board. I do however want to reiterate that throughout the time I was referring to the note or notification, briefing notice which Iíve given yourselves a copy of this morning and that is what I was referring to throughout and that is why I still maintain that the other issues of what Mr Dick and what Mr Du Toit said are totally untrue and that I still havenít seen a copy of that document.
DR KLATZOW: But Mr Nadel. Mr Dick and Mr Du Toit who have no reason to lie because it makes it worse for them to bring up this red herring, if it is a red herring. Both of them, in your presence and you sat in on that hearing, I know you did, both of them said in your full hearing that there was standing instructions. You were at no time, during that hearing inhibited from approaching South African Airwaysí lawyer and at the time South African Airways were represented by an extremely able man, by the name of Mr Puckrin.
There was nothing stopping you going to Puckrin and saying to him, this is wrong because it was an important issue. Standing orders had been disobeyed. It had evoked the judgeís wrath, there was a debate that had raged for some time in that court room about the standing orders. At no time Mr Nadel did you go to any one of the legal representatives of SAA and say to him there were never any standing orders.
And in fact during the hearing, I want to put it to you that when a question was posed to you by Mr Southwood relating to those standing orders your answer was a tacit acceptance of their existence. Why did you not tell the enquiry at the time that there were no standing order and that Dick and Du Toit were lying?
MR NADEL: I will go back to what I can recall that day or that time. I was always referring to the briefing notice which Iíve had a copy of since day 1 and I very briefly was able to read through Mr Puckrinís cross examination of myself and he does refer to the briefing notice and/or the guidelines.
DR KLATZOW: The briefing notice is quite distinct and you know that from what was meant at the time by the standing instructions which were on file at ZUR. That statement was made in your hearing and yet you never crossed, the first time youíve ever contradicted that is today when youíve given evidence here under oath.
DR KLATZOW: You see I want to bring, I want to bring this line of questioning to itís full circle. We know that the aircraft fell in flames off the coast of Mauritius. We know that aircraft donít normally do this. We know that SAA was probably involved with assisting Armscor in the total onslaught. We know that they didnít hesitate to ship military equipment aboard civilian aircraft. Thereís ample evidence.
We know that that was a dark and dismal period in this countryís history. We know that there is a strong likelihood on an overwhelming balance of probabilities that a fire occurred earlier. We know that Uys didnít go down to see about that, in total disregard of all instructions. We have a concession made willingly from you that it is a most unlikely thing for him to do on his bat.
And the overwhelming balance of probability is that he communicated that to ZUR and it would have been done during the tenure of your shift. We then have on top of the evidence which I have given you, none of which, and please donít refer to it as speculation, these are facts, we know then that the tape goes missing under circumstances which neither you nor anybody else is willing to explain.
We know that there is a history of incriminating tapes going missing in this country. The only inference that can be drawn from this is that there was something untoward on that tape, that there was a discussion with ZUR which was in some way highly incriminating towards either Armscor or the aircraft handlers, that is South African Airways, that you were aware of that information and that you are part of a massive conspiracy and SAA to cover that up.
The tape was impounded shortly after the accident, as it should have been. Inexplicably it finds itís way back and inexplicably it gets lost. We also have a series of events which have occurred which make your story incredibly improbable. We have Judge Margoís enquiry deflecting the enquiry away from the talk of dinner, for reasons which are obvious now. We have Judge Margo stopping the cross examination of you just when it was about to produce fruit.
Shortly after Southwood accuses you of lying, that cross examination stopped and you remember that. We have Margo failing to ask an important witness, Jimmy Deel why he took the tape out and who he gave it to. And your evidence that you have led this morning is so inherently improbable that itís with regret Mr Nadel that I tell you that I have difficulty believing a word of it.
I believe that there are elements in your evidence which are truthful. But the fact that there was nothing on the tape, the fact that you donít know what happened to the tape and the fact that you were never suborn to give evidence to deny the existence of the tape, I simply cannot believe. And you have not given me a probable version for any of the material facts which I have given to you today, other than a bare denial.
And I want to put it to you, that this enquiry is but the beginning. You are going to be called upon again if this enquiry re-opens in a proper judicial hearing to repeat what Margo did, this time on a more formal basis. You are going to have to give this evidence again. And I want to tell you that the evidence that youíve given here under oath today is not going to be helpful to you at a subsequent enquiry because it is inherently improbable.
MR NADEL: Well Iíd like to say that itís unfortunate you think this. If there is another enquiry and Iíd be once again more than willing to appear. I will not change what Iíve said because I believe and I know, if things were hidden, if things were covered up I was not in a position or was aware of it. Obviously I can read between the lines as well and things do look rather strange.
I was never privy to sensitive information if something did happen, ever heard about, so as far as me changing my story I must be very honest and say that what I have said today is to the best of my knowledge what I know.
DR KLATZOW: Incidentally, there have been persistent statements made by crew members who are too frightened to make it under oath and to put their names to the statements but who have spoken to me, all of whom who have claimed that that tape was in existence, that the tape was listened to and that the tape was listened to by ZUR staff who knew the contents of that tape and that it was spoken about until they were upbraided by a senior official and they have never spoken of it again. Do you deny that that happened?
MR NADEL: I deny that absolutely. I have never heard the tape, the actual ZUR tape, Iíve heard transcripts of the tape from Mauritius tower, Iíve heard that tape, it was common knowledge, everybody heard it to the aircraft. Iíve heard transcripts of the cockpit voice recorder, in my opinion are almost impossible to understand.
DR KLATZOW: But itís a simple piece of logic Mr Nadel. The last half hour is recorded for all to hear on the transcript from Plaisance Airport, isnít it? Youíve heard that? It starts with Springbok 269 we have a smoke problem.
DR KLATZOW: Well Mr Nadel itís a simple piece of logic and youíre fencing with me. Itís a simple piece of logic which I donít think you need to be anything of an expert more than you are to answer. Can you think of a simple explanation?
DR KLATZOW: Well Mr Nadel thatís an interesting answer because that kind of attitude has pervaded your evidence. And the point is a very simple one, a more telling answer than your refusal answer that question would be hard to imagine.
DR KLATZOW: The last half hour of the Helderberg, starting with a conversation where the pilot identifies himself, he speaks to Plaisance Airports, says we have a smoke problem. That occupies about the last half hour of that aircraftís life. The cockpit voice recorder.
DR KLATZOW: The cockpit voice recorder is on the plane itself, should be taping the same conversation and yet not a word of the Plaisance conversation is found on the cockpit voice recorder and not a word of the cockpit voice recorder is found on the Plaisance conversation. And there is only one explanation that I have put to the witness and that is that the cockpit voice recorder is at a period prior to the last half hour of the aircraft and thereís other evidence to support that.
MR NADEL: Dr Klatzow thank you very much for clarifying that. I was also, I must be very honest with you, a little confused about the cockpit voice recorder having two recordings. I actually didnít realise you were referring to the tower at Plaisance Airport.
DR KLATZOW: But there were communications outside ZUR. You are trying to convince me and the Commission that that aircraft was incommunicado from the time that the first tape was changed Ďtil the time that it crashed and that is so unlikely as to be rejectable, out of hand.
DR KLATZOW: No, that is not correct Mr Nadel. There are three tapes that concern us. There is the tape which recorded the take-off from Taipei which came to an end, either shortly after you had come on duty or just before you had come on duty. There is a second tape which is the one that went missing and there is a third tape which records the events on the following day.
DR KLATZOW: And it is, the reason, the reason is that itís gone missing without explanation, it has gone missing under the most suspicious of circumstances during the period of your tenure at the station and the explanations that youíve given, all of them ring hollow. Not one of them has the ring of truth about it.
MR NADEL: I just want to clarify as well that the radio station as I mentioned earlier is not part and parcel of the, itís part of the set up but itís not that everybody sits in the radio station. The radio station is an office that could be down the hall. Itís not that Iím sitting in ZUR the whole time.
DR KLATZOW: No but you see, the deeper you go into this the more problems youíre going to have Mr Nadel because it was close enough for Mr Dick to come and have a conversation with you about something which was irrelevant according to your evidence anyway. He sidled over during a tea break according to your previous evidence and said well I canít raise them and you said well thatís not a problem, just leave it there.
Now that whole conversation I want to put to you never occurred. Because if it did occur the subsequent behaviour of Mr Dick at the enquiry is utterly inexplicable and weíre left with the uncomfortable proposition that in this mess we have only one person telling the truth and that is you. And weíve examined the propositions that youíve put in some detail today and you have not provided a satisfactory answer to any of the germane questions which have been put to you.
MR NADEL: Iím sorry you feel that way. As I mentioned earlier on Iím quite clear in my conscience that Iím not aware of any conversation between Captain Uys and anybody telling us of a problem. If that conversation took place and I could have been out of the office and it had gone through to Mr Dick Iím quite sure Mr Dick would have told me that this is a problem, they have a massive problem.
CHAIRPERSON: Dr Klatzow I donít think you are likely to get any further concessions from Mr Nadel. He has given us what he considers to be his best recollection and I would suggest that we perhaps should move on if there are other new aspects that you would like to explore.
MS TERREBLANCHE: I would just like to ask one or two. To the best of your recollection, can you remember even though you say that it was quite unique for Jan Smuts to have a ZUR facility and were there any other such facilities in South Africa. For instance at the military?
MR NADEL: No. Weíre not a control tower as I mentioned earlier on. South African Airways had this facility purely as a means of communicating with the aircraft. Itís never been a legal requirement for an airline to have this facility because air traffic control centres are there to control the aircraft. The aircraft have to call at compulsory reporting points throughout to the various countriesí air traffic control centres.
MR NADEL: Well air traffic control centres are civil aviation control centres, itís compulsory to call them. They control the actual flow of airlines in the skies. Itís not compulsory to have called us. As I mentioned I think there were nine, what they call flight information regions. There are nine areas that are controlled by different countries air traffic control centres and itís compulsory for any aircraft flying across these regions to make contact with those flight information regions.
MR NADEL: Well I believe if it was a, excuse me but Iím not an expert either, but if they have a problem whichever country is involved I would imagine would try and contact not necessarily South African Airways in house radio station but at least an air traffic control facility in South Africa.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Then I just want to have one last question. A Mr Van Der Veer, when you had a problem earlier that day with a seized engine, did he ever come in earlier in the day, that you were aware of?
DR KLATZOW: Sorry, one last question. Had there been contraband material, material of war which caused that plane to catch alight, it would be extremely unlikely I want to put it to you that the pilot would have phoned one of the air traffic controllers along the route and said weíve got a fire problem because to do that would have been to invite all kinds of questions internationally which SAA could not afford.
So I just want to put it to you, for your comment, that it would have been extremely unlikely for them to contact anybody else at that stage but ZUR. They wouldnít have phoned up Bombay flight control and said weíve got ammonium perchlorate aboard, can we come and land. And they wouldnít have gone there to land which is why they flew on to disaster.
MR NADEL: You know, once again, Iím not an expert in military matters or what is carried on board aircraft or whatnot, Iím purely in the airline industry for the love of aviation and for what the airline is there for, albeit any other airline.
CHAIRPERSON: I think what is sought to be obtained from you is, given those times and I mean Bombay, I do not consider that South African Airways flew to Bombay or to India or to any of these places and you were told earlier on about how one of the reasons the ZUR was being used was because you were flying around the bulge by which I understand you were not landing anywhere in Africa.
CHAIRPERSON: Except Cape Verde Islands, yes. Now I think what the question seems to establish is whether or not you consider there would have been a likelihood for Uys to have, one, and Iíll speed the question here, to have considered landing in Bombay given the times or to have been given permission by the South African authorities had he asked for one to land at Bombay. What are your thoughts around these issues, given the times.
MR NADEL: Well obviously as you quite rightly say, given the time, India was not very friendly with the South African Government at all. I would like to go back to what I said earlier on is I think if youíre burning you should at least think about the people on board and say well Iím going to land in any case, the consequences we can try and sort out later. That is my view.
And then Iíd also like to maybe go on and say, as was mentioned earlier on, the fire could have started two hours out of Taipei. Wouldnít it have been more logical for the aircraft to turn around and go back to Taipei than to fly many more hours through the night knowing full well that they canít land anywhere else if the problem re-occurred.
DR KLATZOW: Yes Mr Chairman. The aircraft had a political problem wherever it landed with that cargo. They could not go back to Taipei, for exactly the reasons that they couldnít land at Bombay or anywhere else along the route and the moment that aircraft landed it was faced with the problem of a search as to what had caused the problem and that would have been a disaster for South African Airways.
For it to have become public knowledge that South Africaís national carrier was flying contraband military equipment on a highly dangerous nature over civilian territory with civilian people on board would have killed that airline stone dead. Nobody would have flown it and nobody would have given it landing rights. And I want to put it to you that that was what was at stake in this whole disaster.
CHAIRPERSON: And on that understanding note can we really move on. Thank you Mr Nadel. I would only say from the Commissionís side you should understand that we are all doing something that we do not enjoy doing. We are trying to find the truth of what happened because we continue, this is one enquiry I thought that the Commission would not go into precisely because it has been done before. It is huge, it always results in more questions being asked than there are answers that we are able to elicit.
But the letters from the Friends of Victims of Helderberg and other material that has been sent to the Archbishop or to the investigative unit have been of a nature that we could not ignore and we have to thank people like you who have come, at what really is short notice and in your case I understand from abroad and one would hope that your assistance will be for having come and testified will assist us in getting to the bottom of this tragedy.
So I thank you very much and for the moment I think you are excused and should you at any stage have anything that you can remember which you consider would be of value and assistance to the Commission, please do not hesitate to contact us.
MS TERREBLANCHE: Yes, our person from Mozambique cannot come again, heís got a number of problems so we are calling Mr Mickey Mitchell, our last witness for the day. I think that you will be able to get away to your meeting with the Minister.