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SANDF: Mandela's medics were not on board when plane crashed

Sapa, AFP

The South African National Defence Force has denied claims that a military plane that crashed in the Drakensberg was carrying Madiba's medical team.

Reports that Mandela's medical team were on board when the aircraft crashed in  Drakensberg have been denied by SANDF. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

A military plane crashed in the Drakensberg mountains, killing 11 people, several media organisations reported on Thursday. One unconfirmed report added the victims were members of Nelson Mandela's medical team.

But the SANDF dismissed reports that former president Nelson Mandela's medical team were on board when the aircraft crashed in the Drakensberg near Ladysmith.

"The reports were incorrect," said Siphiwe Dlamini, SANDF head of communications.

The Dakota aircraft went missing en route to Mthatha after it took off from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria on Wednesday. It was expected to land in Mthatha at 10am on Thursday.

Gone missing
Dlamini could not disclose how many people were on board when it crashed.

Rescue helicopters were dispatched to the mountainous region after the plane was reported missing, but had to be called back because of bad weather, reports said.

Ground rescue teams were also sent to the area.

Beeld newspaper earlier reported that a medical team was on board and speculated that it could have been Mandela's team because the plane was headed for Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, where he lives. – AFP, Sapa

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