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Tue Sep 23 02:19:57 SAST 2014

Latest inquiry must lay to rest the ghost of Samora Machel

Editorial | 12 December, 2012 00:04

A NEW inquiry has been launched into the 1986 air crash that led to the death of Mozambican president Samora Machel.

Investigations into the crash are not new. It was the subject of a formal commission of inquiry in 1987 that exonerated the apartheid government, which it was long believed had orchestrated the tragedy. Instead, it was blamed on pilot error.

The cause of the crash was again raised by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which launched a special, closed investigation.

The fact that the new investigation by the Hawks has been sanctioned by President Jacob Zuma illustrates the seriousness with which the matter is being treated.

But, quite often, events that have had a significant impact on the world fuel conspiracy theories.

Many people disputed Judge Cecil Margo's conclusions in the 1987 inquiry, insisting that the plane was led off course by a false navigation beacon set up by apartheid agents.

But senior officials such as Pik Botha, who served in the National Party government, have persisted in denying any involvement.

What purpose will the latest inquiry serve, more than two decades after the Mozambican leader was killed? Some will argue that these matters must be allowed to become history, that they must recede from our memories because clear and concise answers have not been found.

But what Dumisa Ntsebeza, who led the truth commission's investigation, said yesterday offers a strong motivation for these events not to be banished.

"People die, memories fade, documents get lost and time is gained to cover tracks. If Samora Machel was lured to his death on South African soil it is a crime and a proper criminal investigation should have been conducted."

For those left bereft when Machel died, answers will always remain important - perhaps as important as they were in 1986.

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Tue Sep 23 02:19:58 SAST 2014 ::