NamPol arrests SA pilots at Ondangwa
The 12 recreational aircraft impounded by Police for having no fly-over permits at Ondangwa Airport, are believed the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
The small planes entered Namibia from Botswana and landed at the Ondangwa Airport with the intentions for refuelling on Saturday.
The Villager established that the two-seater aircraft have been flying across southern Africa in support of CANSA to raise awareness around cancer.
They are led by cancer survivor and businessman Tommy Nel, the expedition – branded “The Gaggle” – departed from Grahamstown on the morning of 27 April for a 16-day journey across southern Africa, and will culminate at Augrabies Falls on 12 May.
Oshana Region Police Commissioner Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa confirmed the 12 pilots were arrested and detained in the local police cells. They were released as per a High Court order after the involvement of local lawyer Frieda Kishi, who represented the pilots. “They were arrested for entering Namibian airspace without flying-over permits, but the 12 pilots were released at about 04h00 this morning as per the High Court order,” Kashihakumwa said today. He explained that although the pilots have been released, the planes were not released to them as an order for their release was yet to be issued. Nampa reports that, one of the pilots, Ron Weissenberg, who spoke on behalf of the pilots said the group did not contravene any laws as they had authority from the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority to use Namibian airspace.
Weissenberg pointed out that they received permission to fly over Namibia from 3 to 11 May 2013, and are in possession of a certificate of validation. At the time of the interview, he was in possession of documents from the authority indicating that they had been granted permission to use Namibian airspace. He went on to say their arrest was the result of miscommunication between the authority and the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), which is in control of protecting Namibia’s airspace. The group started off in South Africa a week ago and landed in Botswana, from where they travelled to the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe per road a few days ago. “We took off from Botswana yesterday and landed at some other places in Namibia, like Rundu, before we ended up being arrested here in Ondangwa,” Weissenberg noted. He indicated that from Ondangwa, they will proceed to the Epupa Falls in the Kunene Region, with their next destination being Swakopmund in the Erongo Region.