Hennenman : 26 Years On

Remembered at Turffontein this Sunday

Greg Holme

Greg Holme was a talented jockey

The racing industry will honour the memory of those who perished in the Hennenman air disaster at Turffontein on Sunday. It is 26 years since the worst tragedy to hit South African horseracing devastated the lives of so many people involved.

The Turffontein raceday is held annually in memory of those who died on Tuesday 12 April 1988, when a United Airways charter flight crashed near the Free State town of Hennenman on its return from a racemeeting in Bloemfontein.

The meeting was due to have been held the previous week, with the racing party booked to travel on a scheduled South African Airways flight.

But when rain forced the postponement of the meeting, SAA couldn’t accommodate a booking change and a plane was specially chartered to transport jockeys and officials to Bloemfontein and back again.

Later, the logbook of the aged United Airways Dakota revealed that it had not been properly serviced and maintained. Fuel leaked and a fire started in the starboard engine, later spreading to the fuselage. The subsequent inquiry failed to pin blame for the disaster on anyone, with United Airways having gone into liquidation in the interim.

Many of the riders were under the age of 22 and the tragedy resulted in an enormous pool of talent lost to the industry overnight.

Rooies Fourie was the Transvaal Champion Jockey at the time.


Twenty-four people died in the tragedy.

Jockeys: Keith Basel, Lawrence Riley, Johannes “Rooies” Fourie, Warren Baillie, Bennie de Wet, Greg Holme, Douglas Roper, Danny Lombard, John McMurtry, Mark Nel, Michael Coetzee, Simon Rahilly and Gordon Sterley.

Officials: Graham Kent, Dave Bullock, Henry Havergall, Ginger Masterton and Johannes van der Linden

Owners: Jacobus Viljoen and Neville Blignaut

Trainer: Hennie van Wyk

Air Crew: Jacob Kalt, Harold Whitehead and Jacqueline Henderson.

Invitation To Families

Clyde Basel

Clyde Basel

On Sunday 13 April the R150 000 Listed Spook Express Handicap will be run over 2600m and the R120 000 Hennenman Memorial Pinnacle Stakes is the supporting feature, run over the same trip.

Phumelela’s Clyde Basel confirmed that the Hennenman air disaster would be acknowledged again this weekend:

“The day remembers those killed in the crash whilst on duty. Phumelela and the RA invite the family of the deceased to come racing, it is the one time of the year that the families get together and engage with one another and share memories. Races on the card are named after those who passed away and the day is in honour of the air disaster’s heroes. One of the most visited sites on the day will be the memorial statue that Mr Emmanuel Cambouris and Dr Hilda Podlas donated at the time of the accident, which now stands at Turffontein race course’s main entrance,’ said Basel.

Families who have not already made arrangements to attend the day may still do so by contacting Angie on 011 683 3220.

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