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SANDF plane had design limitations

Aviation correspondent Guy Leitch said the plane had fundamental limitations.

It appears the design of the plane that crashed in the Drakensberg might be the cause of the accident.

PRETORIA - Eyewitness News has learnt the design limitations of a World War II-era Dakota plane made it unsafe to attempt to fly over the Drakensburg.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) confirmed that six crew and five passengers were killed when the plane went down on Wednesday.

The Dakota DC3 C47 plane left the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria on Wednesday, en route Umtata in the Eastern Cape.

It is understood the plane encountered severe weather.

Aviation correspondent Guy Leitch said the plane was upgraded significantly, although this particular Dakota was more than 70-years-old.

But he added that this did not overcome its fundamental limitations.

"Its inability to fly over the weather, deal with icy conditions and lack of pressurisation [might have led to the crash]."

Leitch says a safe flying altitude over the Drakensburg is 14,000 feet, but the Dakota is limited to 12,000 feet.

So why did the crew take the risk?

"We cannot speculate why," Leitch said.

The SANDF has appointed a board of inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the crash.

The defence force also released the names of the victims:

Crew Members

Major K. Misrole

Captain Z.M. Smith

Sergeant B.K. Baloyi

Sergeant E. Boes

Sergeant J.M Mamabolo

Corporal L. Mofokeng

Passengers

Sergeant L. Sobantu

Corporal N.W. Khomo

Corporal A. Matlaila

Corporal M.J. Mthomben

Lance Corporal N.K. Aphane