“It is the
biggest (humanitarian) evacuation effort by the South
African Air Force (SAAF) since the dawn of democracy. An Air
force C130 aircraft was converted into an air ambulance for
this unfortunate incident”, said minister in the Presidency,
the Honourable Jeff Radebe.
offloading the injured from Nigeria from the C130BZ
He was speaking at Air Force
Base Swartkop (AFB Swkp) on Monday, 22 September 2014 on
behalf of government during the welcoming ceremony of the
pilgrim repatriation flight that landed at the base. A total
of 25 South Africans were injured in Lagos, Nigeria when a
guest house they were occupying collapsed, injuring and
killing some pilgrims.
Emergency Services with
SAPS on standby to attend to the injured
In aid of the injured and
deceased South Africans, the Commander-in-Chief of the South
African National Defence Force (SANDF), President Jacob Zuma
authorised the dispatch of a SAAF a Hercules C130BZ from 28
squadron at Air Force Base Waterkloof (AFB Wklf).
inter-departmental medical and rescue team comprising of
members from the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS),
South African Police Service (SAPS) forensics, social
development, disaster management and law enforcement
agencies accompanied the C130BZ to Nigeria to repatriate
South African citizens and to unite them with their families
and loved ones.
flight touched down at 10:43am after a 10 hour flight,
carrying in it the injured including 3 children who were
orphaned by the tragedy. Amongst them was 3 critically
injured patients. Priority was given to the critically
injured patients who were stabilized and transferred into
the waiting ambulances for their road trip, escorted by the
law enforcement agencies, to the Steve Biko Academic
hospital where they would receive further medical
assistance. The next-of-kin were also anxiously waiting to
be reunited with the injured members of their families.
The minister confirmed injuries that included upper or lower
limps amputations. Some of those injured during the collapse
of the building developed gangrene on their toes and would
have to be amputated as well. Those with kidney failures
were put on dialyses.
dignitaries to welcome them back were Deputy Minister of
Defence and Military Veterans (DMoD&MV) Honourable Kebby
Maphatsoe, Secretary for Defence (Sec Def) Dr. Sam Gulube,
Chief of the Air Force (CAF), Lieutenant General Zimpande
Msimang and Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Aubrey
Sedibe from the SAMHS.
Furthermore, Minister Radebe told the delegation of media
correspondents during the media briefing held at the base
that government was now faced with a mammoth task of
repatriating the mortal remains of the 87 confirmed dead
South African citizens. The repatriation will commence upon
the finalization of the DNA identification process which
takes time as it has to be performed with meticulous
Minister Jeff Radebe
updating South Africans on the injured and deceased citizens
The ‘airborne ambulance’ of
the SAAF, the C130BZ, will once more take to the skies to
repatriate the remains of the deceased in service of the
Republic and its people.