Johannesburg - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe's private jet did not have to make an emergency landing in New Zealand, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Monday.
“On the plane's first scheduled approach to the airport, the pilots noted a warning light suggesting that the there might be something wrong with the plane brakes or tyre,” SANDF spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said in a statement.
“As a precautionary measure, they decided to miss their first landing slot in order to circle the airport whilst verifying the cause of the warning light.
“As a standard procedure the airport placed the emergency vehicles on standby.”
Motlanthe's plane landed safely at the Wellington International Airport on Saturday, said Mabaya.
The Democratic Alliance said earlier that this was the second time Motlanthe had been involved in an “emergency landing”.
Motlanthe's plane had to make an emergency landing on an unlit runway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2009 after missing a fuel stop, he said.
He had been returning from an African Union summit in Libya.
DA MP David Maynier said it would have been safer and more economical for him to have taken a commercial aircraft rather than a military jet on Saturday.
“We cannot allow the safety of the deputy president to be compromised,” he said in a statement.
However, the SANDF said it provided the safest air transport for politicians because its pilots were “among the best in the world”.
Motlanthe's spokesperson Thabo Masebe said he concluded his visit to New Zealand on Sunday.
During the visit, he met New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to discuss the strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries.
He also met the Springbok team in Wellington to give them moral support ahead of their opening World Cup game against Wales.
He later attended the match, which the Springboks won 17-16. - Sapa