In 1987, whilst South Africa was under an arms embargo, flight SAA295 took off from Chiang Kai Shek International Airport, on a flight to Johannesburg via Mauritius.
Somewhere over the Indian Ocean a catastrophic fire broke out in the cargo hold, ultimately costing all 159 passengers and crew their lives. A Commission of Enquiry at the time would find no due and suspicious cause for the fire. However, conspiracy theories, public opinion and subsequent expert opinion suggested that the fire was caused by the illegal transport of atomic weapons by the South African Defence Force, who had been clandestinely transporting arms on civilian carriers.
During the 1996 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the case was reopened for investigation under apartheid era atrocities. But, with insufficient evidence, there has never been closure to this story and to the relatives who lost loved ones aboard this flight.
That December, a month after the tragedy, I spent some time at a beach house up the east coast with the fiancé of one of the deceased passengers. I will never forget how she sat endlessly in a chair looking out over the Indian Ocean, cigarette butts littering the lawn around her. She just sat and watched, while we played and laughed in the very ocean that had claimed the body of the man she loved.