Conflict & Justice

Military plane crash in South Africa's Drakensberg mountains kills 11


The village of Qunu, near Mthatha in South Africa's Eastern Cape, where former president Nelson Mandela grew up, and where he spends most of his time today.



JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A South African military plane has crashed in the Drakensberg mountains, killing all 11 people on board.

The twin-propeller aircraft, a Douglas C-47 Dakota, had been traveling from an air base in South Africa's capital Pretoria to the city of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

A military spokesman said the plane left Waterkloof Air Force Base early Wednesday, but encountered bad weather and failed to make its scheduled 10 a.m. landing.

Soldiers found the wreckage Thursday morning in an area of the Drakensberg mountain range called "Giant's Castle," near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal province. Six crew members and five passengers died in the crash.

In a statement, South Africa's defense department said an investigation will take place to determine what went wrong.

The South African National Defense Force has denied local media reports that the aircraft was carrying members of former president Nelson Mandela's medical team. Mthatha, the plane's intended destination, is just 17 miles from Qunu, the village where Mandela spent his boyhood and where he now lives.

Last month there were similar rumors when a plane crash-landed at Mthatha airport due to a faulty wheel. No passengers were injured in that crash, and none of Mandela's medics were on board.

More from GlobalPost: Marikana: South Africa's perfect storm