Ahead of a public memorial service on Wednesday for three submariners who lost their lives, the South African Navy has confirmed a Board of Inquiry (BOI) will be convened next month to establish the circumstances which led to their tragic deaths.
Lieutenant Commander Gillian Elizabeth Hector (executive officer), Master Warrant Officer William Masela Mathipa (coxswain), and Warrant Officer Class One Mmokwapa Lucas Mojela (coxswain under training) died during a training exercise last week, after they were reportedly swept out to sea while standing on the deck of the SA Navy submarine SAS Manthatisi.
The submarine had been conducting a vertical transfer using a SA Air Force Maritime Lynx helicopter, while on its way to Cape Town.
In a statement, the SA Navy said: “An internal BOI 05/23 has been launched by the Chief of the Navy and will commence on 11 October 2023 to be completed on 10 November 2023.
“The outcome of the BOI will be shared within the prescripts of the law and in line with SANDF policies and procedures.”
The naval authority condemned “all unfounded speculation” regarding the circumstances that gave rise to the incident.
“Such speculation only adds injury to an already open wound.
“The SA Navy takes note of all enquiries and questions regarding the submarine incident, it requests that members of the media allow the families, the SA Navy and the general South African public time and space to mourn and honour the lives of the fallen sailors,” said the SA Navy.
The joint public memorial service for the officers will be held at the Wynberg Military Indoor Sport Centre, Area Health Military Unit (2 Military Hospital) on Wednesday at 10am.