SAAF Mozambique rescue mission remembered


In the year the SA Air Force (SAAF) marks its centenary, commemorative events have by and large been canned due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the National State of Disaster.

The only centenary related events to have happened this year were the Prestige Day at AFB Swartkop, the force’s oldest base, and the Prestige Awards presentation which preceded it.

The annual SAAF Museum air show at the beginning of May was to have been a highlight of the centenary year, but was cancelled due to the coronavirus. Africa Aerospace and Defence, the continent’s largest exhibition for these sectors, is (at the time of publication) still on track to take place at AFB Waterkloof in September. It is envisaged the air force will use the public days to showcase its platforms and skills.

Looking back to when the airborne service of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) marked its 80th year of existence the tasking to support flood-stricken Mozambique come to the fore as a highlight of what the SAAF can do.

This tasking and some of its sorties are remembered in a social media posting titled “The SAAF commemorates the 2000 Mozambique flood rescues”.

“The SAAF was involved in the rescue of approximately 45 000 people during the 2000 Mozambique floods early in 2000.

“During February and March large parts of Africa experienced incredibly heavy rainfall. In a short space of time 800 people lost their lives. Others were forced from their homes and had to climb roofs and trees in hopes of being rescued.

“The SAAF’s most publicised rescue was that of Rosita Mabuiango, daughter of Carolina Chiure, who was born on a tree. The aircraft used during the rescue was a BK117 helicopter. The crew involved were Major Chris Berlyn (commander), Sergeant N J Jeanes (flight engineer) and Corporal Tshikiwa Nengovhela (medical crew).

“The total number of hours flown during the rescues was 110.”