Cape Town - The ill-fated military aircraft that crashed in the Drakensberg claimed the lives of three South African Air Force members from Cape Town – pilots Zack Smith and Kurt Misrole, and Eric Boes, an air loadmaster. They were among 11 deaths.
Misrole, 32, leaves a devastated family and wife. They would have celebrated their second anniversary in February.
His father Wensley Misrole, who lives in Pretoria, said the death came as a huge shock.
“No parent expects to hear news of their child being involved in an accident and dying so tragically.”
“The air force has been contacting us and keeping us up to date, but details of what went wrong and so on will take a while to be available,” he said. Kurt was his eldest son and had been married for a year and 10 months to Carin. Kurt, who had wanted to be in the air force since he was a young boy, had been a pilot for 12 years.
“Kurt wanted to be a pilot since he was small,” he added.
Smith’s cousin, Duveen Bam, confirmed on Facebook that Smith was her cousin and that he had been piloting the aircraft. “The aircraft flew into a mountain, everyone is dead… “
On his Facebook page, Boes listed Cape Town as his home town and that he was an air loadmaster with the SAAF, which he joined in January 1994.
Meanwhile, a board of inquiry has been convened by the Department of Defence to investigate the incident.
After no communication from the aircraft, the SAAF began a search but severe weather hindered the operation.
On Thursday morning, a search party found the wreckage of the C-47 Dakota of 35 Squadron. The six crew and five passengers died, the defence force confirmed.
A veteran pilot, who asked not to be named, said the crash reminded him of the 2002 incident in which former Proteas captain Hansie Cronjé died
“The aircraft had an unpressurised cabin, meaning that it flew at a relatively low altitude,” he said.
The plane departed from Air Force Base Waterkloof on an “official tasking” at 7.45am on Wednesday. It was en route to Mthatha, and lost radio contact about 9.45am.
The medical team that does a routine weekly check-up on Nelson Mandela at his home in Qunu often used this service, but it was confirmed they were not on board. The cause of the crash has not been revealed, and it is understood that the plane was not equipped with a “black box”, which keeps a detailed record of occurrences during a flight.
SANDF identifies casualties
Major K Misrole
Captain ZM Smith
Sergeant BK Baloyi
Sergeant E Boes
Sergeant JM Mamabolo
Corporal L Mofokeng
Sergeant L Sobantu
Corporal NW Khomo
Corporal A Matlaila
Corporal MJ Mthomben
Lance-corporal NK Aphane