The South African National Defence Force Thursday afternoon dismissed reports that former President Nelson Mandela’s medical team had been on board a military aircraft which crashed in the Drakensberg mountain range near Ladysmith Wednesday.
There has been speculation that the modified World War Two Dakota was carrying the medical team because it was heading for Mthatha near where Mandela lives.
“The reports were incorrect,” military spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said in a statement obtained by PANA here.
He said the identities of the deceased would be revealed later Thursday, but that there were definitely no members of Mandela’s medical team on board.
It is also unclear how many people were on board the aircraft.
The aircraft which departed from the Waterfloof Air Force Base on Wednesday morning experienced severe weather.
“Unconfirmed reports said the aircraft last communicated with Air Traffic Control when above Giants Castle in the Drakensberg, saying they were at 11,000 feet and flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions due to the bad visibility. The aircraft never arrived at Mthatha Airport,” the statement said.
The route is used weekly by the medical team which looks after 94-year-old Mandela, who now lives in his birthplace in Qunu.