The widow of a pilot who unsuccessfully tried to obtain information on the crash that led to his death has been granted access to the information by the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria).

BusinessLIVE reports that the court gave the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) two weeks to make the details of the February 2021 crash available to her.

The SACAA opposed the court application and argued that providing the reports to a private person would prejudice SA’s international relations.

The aviation authority also stated it did not have some of the records requested.

Ina Leuvennink, the widow of Leon Leuvennink, first applied to the SACAA in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain the records for an independent expert probe into the cause of the crash. Leuvennink, the former chief pilot of Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics, a company providing geophysical survey flights to mines and other entities, died when his Air Tractor light aircraft crashed in adverse weather conditions near Koster in the North West Province.

SACAA’s accident investigation report concluded that Leuvennink probably became disoriented in thick clouds before crashing.

His widow appointed two experts who agreed that the SACAA’s report lacked certain relevant information necessary to establish the cause of the accident.

The authority’s legal counsel presented arguments contained in the civil aviation regulations maintaining that making the records available could cause prejudice to the international relations of SA. 

The SACAA stated as SA is a party to the Convention on International Civil Aviation of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, it is prohibited from disclosing the requested information.

The court found the SACAA’s refusal was unfounded, reports BusinessLIVE.

Among the documents requested by the widow was the weather report on the day of the crash. The SACAA argued that all these reports were secret or did not exist though they were needed for its own investigation.

The court found the SACAA’s approach to be ‘lackadaisical’, and where the authority did not have any of the requested reports it should obtain affidavits as to the reasons why it could not obtain them.

The court ordered the SACAA to provide all the requested information within 15 business days and slapped it with a costs order.

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