The 11 people killed when an SA Air Force aircraft crashed in the Drakensberg near Ladysmith are still being identified, the military said on Friday.
“We cannot release the names yet because the identification process is still on-going,” SA National Defence Force spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said.
Rescue workers survey the mangled wreckage of the SAAF Dakota which crashed into the Drakensberg mountain, in KwaZulu-Natal. File picture: Chris Botha/ Netcare 91. Credit: Netcare911
“They need to be positively identified before names can be released and that takes time.”
Six SA Air Force members and five others were killed. The plane went missing en route to Mthatha after taking off from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria on Wednesday. The aircraft had been expected to land in Mthatha at 10am.
After no communication from the Dakota, the SAAF activated a search and rescue mission. The wreckage was found on Thursday morning.
On Friday morning Dlamini denied a report that former president Nelson Mandela's medicine was on board the aircraft. Neither did he want to entertain claims that Mandela's medical team refused to board the plane out of safety fears.
These claims were made in a statement issued by the SA Security Forces Union (Sasfu), a trade union which deregistered by the defence department last year.
Earlier in the day, it was reported there was a possibility that the plane was allowed to fly in the severe weather because Mandela's medication was on board.
Sasfu claimed Mandela's medical staff was supposed to have been on the plane, but safety fears stopped them from boarding.
Dlamini said the plane had been overhauled and was basically a “new plane”.
A board of inquiry had been convened to investigate the cause of the accident, Dlamini said.
“Investigators are deep in their work and we should allow the enquiry to complete its work before we speculate on what happened.”
Dlamini said the SANDF was unhappy that the names of the 11
victims had been released by some media, saying not all the next-of-kin had been consulted. - Sapa