SAA Helderberg 747 crashes

Saturday, 28 November 1987

The South African Airways Helderberg 747 jet aircraft crashed into the Indian Ocean near Mauritius, killing all 159 people on board. A fire, which started from the main deck cargo hold, caused the crash of the jet. The board of enquiry, headed by Mr Justice Margo, reported that the fire was fuelled by plastic and cardboard packing materials, but the actual source of ignition could not be determined. Sabotage was unlikely to have been the cause of ignition. According to Margo the smoke and fire detector systems as well as the fire fighting facilities were in poor working condition. The fact that a ZUR tape recording of flight had disappeared and rumours that there had been an earlier fire (information about which had allegedly been suppressed), and also that the flight had carried dangerous cargo, led to wide-spread speculations in the press.

• southafrica, 'The Helderberg crash',[Online] Available at:[Accessed 28 November 2013]

Last updated : 27-Nov-2015

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011