1986 Crash Site

A Poignant Memorial

1986 Crash Site Memorial

The turn-off to the Jeppes Reef border post with Swaziland takes you to one of South Africa’s most moving monuments: the site of the 1986 plane crash that killed Mozambican President, Samora Machel.

Born in Gaza province in 1933, Machel was the first president of independent Mozambique. In 1986, he and his entourage were returning to Maputo when their aircraft crashed into a hillside, slid across the shared border, the parts coming to a shuddering halt before bursting into flames. Of the 44 people on board, only nine survived.

The poignant memorial monument at the crash site features a collection of steel pipes, one for each of the 35 victims. The rust on the pipes symbolises the tears shed for the victims and the blood of the dead and injured. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, the pipes set up a mournful sound that either mimics the sobs of the bereaved or the roar of a jet aircraft. A top-class museum has also been built on this remote site. 

Jeppes Reef Border post with Swaziland N4

Credit: The N4 Book – The Road to Maputo & The N3 Book