SANDF spokesman Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga. Picture: SOWETAN
SANDF spokesman Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga. Picture: SOWETAN

THE wreckage of a South African Air Force plane that went missing on Wednesday was found on Thursday morning in the Drakensberg near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said.

SANDF spokesman Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga confirmed on Thursday morning that the plane, which had been en route from the Waterkloof air-force base in Gauteng to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, had been found in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

He said a rescue operation would be mounted after bad weather the previous day had halted a military helicopter search for the plane.

“The wreckage has been spotted on the mountain range from Pietermaritzburg not far from Ladysmith,” Brig-Gen Mabanga said. “Efforts will be made to see if any lives can be saved.”

Earlier reports had speculated that the plane might have been carrying a medical team to do a routine check-up on former president Nelson Mandela, but SANDF head of communications Siphiwe Dlamini dismissed these reports as incorrect.

Radio station Algoa FM reported that the aircraft was a Douglas C47TP, an upgraded DC-3 refitted with turbine engines. It also quoted an unnamed source saying 11 people were believed to be on board, though Mr Dlamini could not confirm this figure.

With Sapa