Port Elizabeth - A man who wanted to get a commercial pilot licence was not sure he would pass the required exam, so he got his friend to write the exam for him, using forged documents.
The impostor passed the exam – but now faces four years in jail while his friend faces jail or a fine.
Soponuchi Amadi from Nigeria and Nedsun Likhunya from Malawi both had private pilots’ licences and had gone to Port Elizabeth for further training.
Amadi wanted a commercial licence, but was uncertain he would pass the exam. He asked Likhunya to write it for him. He gave him his private pilot’s licence and Likhunya altered it by replacing Amadi’s photograph with his own. Likhunya then wrote the exam posing as Amadi.
Invigilators were suspicious, and while the impostor was writing the examination with about 10 others, they set background checks in motion and found that he was not the man he said he was.
Both men were charged under the civil aviation laws in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court and found guilty on several charges.
Likhunya was sentenced to one year in jail on a charge of forgery and three years for contravening various civil aviation regulations.
The court also ordered that his private pilot’s licence be cancelled.
Amadi, who had asked him to write the exam on his behalf, was found guilty of contravening several civil aviation regulations and sentenced to three years jail or a fine of R10 000. Two of the three years were suspended for five years.
Poppy Khoza, director of the SA Civil Aviation Authority, welcomed the conviction and said the two men “seemed to be oblivious of the fact that in the aviation industry, there is absolutely no room for error” as this led to the loss of lives.
Although Likhunya passed the exam, posing as Amadi, this would not have enabled Amadi to fly a commercial airline. Pilots need other requirements, such as an air transport pilot’s licence and many flying hours before they can take control of a commercial aircraft.