16 Apr 2014 15:50pm
GROOTFONTEIN, 16 APR (NAMPA) Defence Minister, Nahas Angula has paid homage to the air force personnel who died tragically in a military helicopter crash at Grootfontein last Friday.
They are heroes and heroines in their own right. We honour them and salute them, Angula said at a memorial service held at the Grootfontein Military Base on Tuesday.
Angula told the gathering of mourners that the Namibian Air Force was to celebrate the hard work and successes of trainees at the Air Force Technical Training Centre at the Grootfontein Military Base that fateful day, 11 April 2014.
Unfortunately, the celebration on that Friday could not take place as tragedy struck after one of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) helicopters crashed and burnt at around 05h05. Some dedicated and experienced NDF officers who were on board died in this tragedy in the line of duty, Angula said
He said nine people were on board the NDFs Z-9 helicopter at the time of accident. The helicopter was flown by Senior Pilot, Elifas Simon Angala, 36, together with Flight Officer Evangeline Naufiku Nghimwenavali.
Angala sustained serious body injuries and died on Tuesday afternoon in the Katutura State Hospital.
The 28-year-old Nghimwenavali died on the spot along with Wilka Ndanyengwa Sheya, 27, and Toini Nekulilo Martin, 52.
A three-year-old boy, Mcvince Mwiya died later at a hospital in Grootfontein while Hendrick Amalwa, six, died later at a hospital in Windhoek.
Three other injured persons, who were also aboard the aircraft, are still in critical condition at different hospitals in Windhoek. They have been identified as Werner Nashilundo, 35, Nabot Kamati, 35, and Johanna Hailaula, 31.
The NDF helicopter was on its way to pick up Angula from Windhoek to Grootfontein, where he was expected to officiate at the graduation ceremony for the Air Force students that Friday.
Angula said all the deceased persons in the tragedy died for their nation.
This tragedy is a reminder to all of us that men and women of the Namibian Defence Force are at all times prepared to accomplish their assignments, whatever the cost. We join the bereaved families in this hour of tragedy. Their loss is our loss, their sorrow is our sorrow, added Angula.
The Defence Minister also urged members of the Defence Force to rededicate themselves to the tasks assigned to them, and not to be demoralised.
He said the best way to honour the deceased members of the Defence Force is to continue with the duties of defending the nation with vigour and determination.
The cause of the helicopter accident has still not been determined.
The minister, however, said experts are on the ground to determine the cause, adding that family members and friends of the deceased persons will be informed once the investigations have been completed.