Air Rhodesia's Viscounts
However, I could not help but be reminded of the deafening silence that followed the terrorist shoot-down of Air Rhodesia Flight 825, a scheduled passenger flight that was shot down by Zimbabwe Peoples Revolutionary Army (ZIRPA) insurgents on 3 September 1978, during the war against Rhodesia. The aircraft involved a Vickers Viscount named the Hunyani, was flying the last leg of Air Rhodesia's regular scheduled internal flight from Victoria Falls to the capital, Salisbury, via the tourist resort town of Kariba.
Soon after Flight 825 took off, a group of ZIPRA guerrillas scored a direct hit on its starboard wing with a Soviet-made Strela 2 surface-to-air infra-red homing missile, critically damaging the aircraft and forcing an emergency landing. An attempted crash landing in a field just West of Karoi was foiled by an unseen ditch, which caused the aircraft to cartwheel and break up. Of the 52 passengers and 4 crew, 38 died in this crash. The insurgents then approached the wreckage, rounded up the 10 survivors they could find and bayonetted, or shot, them. Eight other passengers survived because they had gone to look for water and help.
Communists Claimed Credit for Carnage
ZIPRA leader Joshua Nkomo publicly claimed responsibility for shooting down the Viscount on BBC television the same evening. Five months later, in February 1979, the communist terrorists shot down another Rhodesian Viscount, Flight 827, another civilian flight, in a similar atrocity.
A Deafening Silence
At a memorial service held on 8 September 1978 for Flight 825's passengers and crew at Salisbury's Anglican Cathedral, about 2,000 people crowded inside, with another 500 standing on the steps and pavement. Many more were listening to the service on the radio. Dean John de Costa delivered a sermon damning what he described as a "deafening silence" from overseas. "Nobody who holds sacred the dignity of human life can be anything but sickened at the events attending the Viscount," he said. "But are we deafened with the voices of protest from nations who call themselves civilised? We are not! Like men in the story of the Good Samaritan, they pass by on the other side... The ghastliness of this ill-fated flight from Kariba will be burned upon our memories for years to come. For others, far from our borders, it is an intellectual matter, not one which affects them deeply. Here is the tragedy!"
It is a matter of international disgrace that the United States government, the British Foreign office, the European Union, the United Nations, the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Organisation of African Unity, all failed to condemn the shooting down and murdering of innocent passengers on these internal civilian flights in Rhodesia. Sometimes silence is golden, other times it is just plain yellow.
Lest We Forget
There is a monument at Voortrekkerhoogte which lists the names of the victims of these terror attacks. It reads: "This memorial is to commemorate the lives of 107 holiday makers and crew murdered in the world's first 9/11 styled attacks to destroy passenger aircraft in flight, when Air Rhodesia Viscounts Hunyani and Umniati were brought down with Sam-7 missiles on leaving Kariba airport on 3 September 1978 and 12 February 1979." Of 18 passengers who survived the Viscount Hunyani crash, 8 escaped while 10 others, mostly women and children, were bayonetted and shot to death. There were no survivors of the Viscount Umniati crash."
"…Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you." 2 Chronicles 19:2
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa