Compensation of Grootfontein plane crash victims in limbo

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Windhoek

The Namibian Air Force, which lost four of its members out of the nine people on board, in a plane crash last year is busy scrutinising the policy on military plane crashes to see how best it can compensate such victims.

Since April 2014, when the plane crashed, the families of the deceased have not yet received any compensation.

In an interview with New Era yesterday, Air Force Commander Air Vice-Marshall Martin Pinehas said that last year they forwarded their request that the Ministry of Defence compensate the families of the crash victims.

But he said “up to now” they are still waiting for feedback from the ministry.

Out of the nine people, three perished at the scene immediately after the aircraft took off, while four others including the pilot died in hospital.

“They were not compensated. The ministry is still seized with the issue. This was the first such fatal accident since the inception of the air force. But I think the process is on to try and see how they can be compensated if there is any compensation,” he said.

The policy currently in place for members of the defence force, especially pilots, is that they are not insured by civilian companies.

He explained that civilian companies are reluctant to insure pilots, because of the risks involved. However, he stressed that individual people can take out their own policies.

“But as far as compensation on the part of government is concerned that is what we are trying to establish now. We have not suffered an accident of this nature before. Now we are trying to scrutinise matters to see whether there is such a policy with such a provision of compensation. Up to now we have not received any feedback. They were very positive that if the policy makes, or does not make provision, special arrangements were going to be made to see how these people are going to be compensated,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, should there be compensation for the military personnel that perished in the plane crash, then civilians who were on board would also want reimbursement.

He was however hopeful the Ministry of Defence would respond positively. Pinehas also revealed the two survivors – Werner Nashilundo, 35, and Nabot Kamati, 35 – have received some compensation from the Social Security Commission.

The air force will honour and remember the victims today at the Grootfontein Air Base, where the crash occurred in April last year.

The helicopter was being flown by senior pilot Elifas Simon Angala, 36, who later died in the Katutura state hospital, and co-flight officer Evangeline Naufiku Nghimwenavali, who died at the crash site.

The Ministry of Defence head of public relations, Colonel Monica Sheya, yesterday said she could not comment on the compensation issues, referring New Era to the air commander in Grootfontein.

New Era was reliably informed that the only two survivors will attend the painful event.

Sheya confirmed that the air force would host a memorial ceremony today to honour the lives of those who perished in the crash.

“They are making a memorial site which will be availed. They have put up a monument,” she said.

The Minister of Defence, Penda ya Ndakolo, is expected to attend the ceremony at the Grootfontein Air Base.

The Chinese-manufactured H425Z9 helicopter crashed just after take-off for Windhoek. It was to pick up the former defence minister Nahas Angula, who was scheduled to officiate at a NDF technicians’ graduation ceremony at Grootfontein.

It was reported that the aircraft took off, but suddenly came down and crashed, bursting into flames at about 05h05.
Wilka Ndanyengwa Sheya, 27, and Toini Nekulilo Martin, 52, also died on the spot.

At the time, Pinehas said Martin was a member of the Namibian Police Force and a mother of Martin Shoopala – the NDF air traffic controller at Grootfontein.

A three-year-old boy, Mcvince Mwiya, who died in hospital in Grootfontein, was the son of one of the general workers at the military base.

Hendrick Amalwa, 6, and Johanna Hailaula, 31, also died later in a hospital in Windhoek.

Amalwa was a nephew of Martin, Pinehas said.

An NDF quarterly journal dated January to March 2012 says that the H425Z9 helicopter that crashed was one of two that were supplied by the Chinese company Polytechnology Inc.

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