Publication: Die Burger Issued: Date: 2002-07-01 Reporter: Willem Jordaan Editor:

Crash Puts Pressure on Denel


Publication  Die Burger
Date 2002-07-01
Reporter Willem Jordaan
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Cape Town - The investigation into recent burglaries at South African weapons manufacturer Denel should be extended after an incident last week in which a Rooivalk attack helicopter crashed during a test flight, said the Democratic Alliance on Sunday.

Rapport claims Denel tried to keep secret an accident in which a Rooivalk crashed between Bapsfontein and Cullinan on Friday morning, in an effort to protect the marketability of the helicopter. No one was injured in the crash.

The report states that Denel staff had told the police in the area that they should not open a dossier.

The Rooivalk was in the news recently when computers with details of the helicopter were stolen during a burglary at Denel Aviation.

Defence spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi confirmed the helicopter had crashed and said he was unaware of any attempts to keep the incident quiet.

He said no details were available at this stage on what caused the incident.

He said an investigation committee of the South African National Defence Force had been appointed to investigate the incident, adding that it was standard procedure. He could not say whether Denel would be conducting its own investigation.

The defence company was not available for comment.

DA MP and defence spokesperson Hendrik Schmidt said it should be ascertained whether attempts had been made to keep the incident quiet.

"If South Africa plans to sell the Rooivalk and related technology, it should be able to prove that the helicopter and the premises where it is manufactured, are safe," Schmidt said

With acknowledgements to Willem Jordaan and Die Burger.