Friday, July 23, 2010
Black Friday for SAPF
A Black Friday for police – General Cele
Barry Bateman | 29 Minutes Ago
Shocked National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele has said it is a Black Friday for the police, following a helicopter crash which killed seven police members on board.
The chopper accident happened on Friday morning in Emalahleni (formerly Witbank).
“It’s a really Black Friday for us since joining the organisation. I don’t think I’ve had such an encounter. It’s really devastating (and) a painful situation. I personally know them all too,” Cele said.
It was a very emotional moment for the General. He said the families had been notified but he intended to personally go and visit them all.
It is understood that the two pilots and five national intervention unit members were on their way to a hostage drama in Emalahleni.
Another chopper that was part of the formation made it to the local police station. Those officers went on to arrest seven suspects, unaware that their colleagues had been killed.
A forensic unit was on the scene gathering evidence to piece together what happened.
Cele did not want to describe what he saw at the scene of the crash.
Eyewitnesses who arrived first found the bodies of the seven officers among the burning debris scattered over the field.
Cele said they were all receiving counselling.
According to Cele the pilot joined the police from the national defence force two years ago and has clocked more than 3000 hours flying.
The helicopter he was piloting had a service in June and recently had an engine overhaul in America.
The general said there was also heavy mist in the area at the time but could not say whether it played a role in the crash.
(Edited by Deshnee Subramany)
July 23 2010 at 03:04PM Get IOL on your
mobile at m.iol.co.za
The bodies of the police officers killed in a helicopter crash near Witbank in Mpumalanga were removed from the wreckage on Friday afternoon.
A mortuary van was still on the scene just after 2pm.
Pieces of the chopper, including the engine, were scattered across a field, near a squatter camp, about seven kilometres outside the town. The entire area had been cordoned off by police tape.
A team of more than 20 forensic pathologists and police officers was on the scene to determine what caused the helicopter to crash.
It was carrying five policemen, a pilot and a crew member, when it plunged to the ground before bursting into flames around 9am on Friday.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, accompanied by national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, visited the scene earlier in the day.
The helicopter, one of two carring national intervention unit members, was en route to a shooting in Witbank, according to national police spokeswoman Sally de Beer. - Sapax
Picture IOL News
Police helicopter crash kills seven
Jul 23, 2010 11:16 AM | By Sapa
A police helicopter carrying seven people crashed outside Witbank, the police department says.
SAPS helicopter. File Picture
Photograph by: EUGENE COETZEE
Police helicopter crash bodies removed
Witbank heli crash kills four
"It was a police helicopter with members of the National Intervention Unit," Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi said.
According to ER24 paramedics, the accident occurred around 9am in a field near Verena Road in Clarinet, where the chopper was found burnt beyond recognition, spokesman Werner Vermaak said.
Mnisi said Mthethwa, accompanied by national police commissioner General Bheki Cele, arrived at the crash site just before 11am.
"The minister and general have just arrived on the scene, they are there to determine what caused the crash."
Comments by Sonny
Our broken hearts go out to all the families and friends of the deceased members of the SAPF who laid down their lives today fighting crime in SA.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM!