Anguish for the families of 11 SA National Defence Force members killed in an plane crash in the Drakensberg, is set to be prolonged this weekend when the victims’ bodies will be released to them in preparation for burial.
Since the tragic crash of the SA Air Force (SAAF) Dakota on Wednesday, the victims’ bodies have been kept at the nearby mortuary but families were expected to arrive this weekend to take their loved ones home.
SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said yesterday that the removal of bodies will depend on the families’ various burial plans.
On Thursday morning, an SAAF Oryx helicopter found the wreckage of the missing Dakota in the vicinity of Giants Castle in the Drakensberg.
The aircraft left Waterkloof Air Force Base at 7.45am on Wednesday en route to Mthatha Airport with a relief team that was to replace security personnel guarding the airport.
According to reports, at 9.45am when the aircraft failed to reach Mthatha, a search and rescue mission was activated.
Eleven people, including six SAAF members, died when the Dakota crashed. The SAAF was still trying to get the victims’ families to give permission for their pictures and names to be used in the media. But according to reports, the deceased crew members were, Major K Misrole, Captain ZM Smith, Sergeant BK Baloyi, Sergeant E Boes, Sergeant JM Mamabolo and Corporal L Mofokeng.
The passengers were Sergeant L Sobantu, Corporal NW Khomo, Corporal A Matlaila, Corporal MJ Mthom-beni and Lance Corporal NK Aphane.
The SANDF is set to convene a board of inquiry to investigate what went wrong and why this type of plane, which has been in operation for more than 75 years, crashed.