Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 19 April 2006

Is Garang’s crash report sacrificed on the alter of international politics?


By Peter Lokarlo Marsu*

April 19, 2006 — The helicopter crash report published by the panel of international team of investigators, charged with the task of establishing the cause of the crash of the chopper in South Sudan, that killed Sudan’s first Vice president alongside fifteen others on board, in July 2005, has left zilch, but mystification, resentment and feeling of resignation in the hearts of most Sudanese, except for those cunning fellows who are most probably, party to the demise of the late Dr. John Garang and now shedding crocodile tears. Lamentably, the report is a fiddle, riddled with scam and premeditated fabrication. It has fallen short of addressing the authenticity of the regrettable circumstances that led to the crash of the Ugandan presidential plane. It is a common knowledge that when morality is contrasted with interest, the former takes a subordinate role in decision process. It is hard to acknowledge the outcome of the investigation and consequently the final report, given its outlandish content. I quote the summary of the cause of the so-called accident in the final report published yesterday.

“The findings attributed the cause of the accident to a combination of the following:
The Captain’s failure to maintain horizontal and vertical situational awareness of the helicopter’s proximity to the surrounding terrain, resulting in inadequate clearance and controlled flight into terrain;
The Captain’s decision to continue visual flight into deteriorating weather conditions;

Inadequacies in operational systems” unquote.

Late, Colonel Peter Nyaikiru, was an officer of proven competence and one of the most experienced pilots in the Ugandan Air force, hence a reason for him being chosen as the president’s personal pilot. To denigrate his credentials and make him a scapegoat to cover up an assassination accomplishment is a horrendous criminal conduct. How are South Sudanese expected to believe the story that the pilot was faulty and that he insisted on applying visual flying rules instead of using onboard instruments while it was dark and the weather was bad and cloudy as reported earlier?

The pilot had all options available at his disposal. He was at liberty to fly back to Entebbe airport where he took off or land at Gulu town in Northern Uganda, which is not very far from the scene of the crash. Alternatively he could again radio Entebbe, if the weather condition proved unmanageable. There was no communication between the pilot and the control tower at Entebbe suggesting difficulties in navigating the Mi 172 chopper. The report names a total of thirteen persons on board before the destruction of the plane as three (3) flight crew members, one (1) cabin attendant and nine (9) passengers. This is quite inconsistent with the earlier figures of fourteen and fifteen, reported by the UN and both the Ugandan and Sudanese teams that arrived at the scene of the crash.

The probe has not mentioned the klanchnikov rifles discovered on the scene of the wreckage or the two additional dead bodies, reported by the UN team that arrived at the sight of the disaster. If the helicopter had been flying at a very low altitude as disclosed in the report, a sudden crash couldn’t possibly have produced charred bodies, beyond recognition on board, unless the plane had caught fire and exploded instantly. If that were the case, then it wouldn’t have been possible to identify the body of Late Garang from the others. To make the report credible and comprehensible, it must first be withdrawn and updated by the investigating team to include this vital piece of information for anyone to believe it.

In October 1986, the Mozambique’s president, Samora Machel, was caught up in identical ill-fated circumstances in a Russian-built Tupolev 134 on a flight from Lusaka in Zambia to Mozambique Airport, crossing over South African territory. He and thirty-three others perished when South African saboteurs using a powerful radio beacon lured his plane to crash into a hillside near Maputo Airport. There were no immediate investigations at the time, and South Africa as usual, denied any involvement in the affair. After a barrage of accusations and finger-pointing at Pretoria, a South African ’Board of Inquiry’ under Judge Cecil Margo later proclaimed the crash an accident and blamed the Soviet Crew, claiming that the plane had locked on another VOR (Very high frequency Omni directional Radio) which they had mistaken for Maputo. Machel’s only crime was that he was one of the most active members of the then five frontline states rallying against South African white racist regime at the time, and was enthusiastically supporting SWAPO (South West African Peoples’ Organisation) resistance, the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, and the MPLA (Marxist Oriented Popular For The Liberation Of Angola) government in Luanda (Angola) against Pretoria’s imperial and hegemonistic ambition in the region.

Again the pilots who had all died in the crash were not available to defend themselves and to dismiss the South African Probe and the final report as fiction and a cover-up.

This is precisely an identical comparable scenario with the Case of Dr. John Garang in South Sudan. Late Colonel Peter Nyaikiru surely won’t come back to life to refute and denounce the report as scam, but we as concerned Sudanese in the country and whom Garang has liberated from the yoke of unprecedented repression, can do that on behalf of the Ugandan pilot, because we need the whole truth to surface and puts us at rest. The four countries involved in the investigations still owe us further explanation. The probe into Garang’s helicopter crash has undoubtedly been sacrificed on the Alter of international politics. The panel of the international team leading the probe have not lived up to expected average moral standards when concluding their report. It is highly probable that there was an external influence that led them to publish such biased and heavily politically tainted report. Anyone could plausibly formulate theories that would lend credence to fabrication and falsehood, if properly dressed in scientific and technical jargon and phrases such as the black box, VOR, visual flying rules, and onboard instruments Or failure to maintain horizontal and vertical situational awareness. That is not what counts at the end of the day. It is the tarnished credibility of the group that makes up such a deplorable report, whether or not they were preoccupied with the concept that presenting objective and authentic report would stir the hornets’ nest.

* Peter Lokarlo Marsu is based in Australia, he can be reached at ptr_lok@yahoo.com.au

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