SA sees spike in January air c

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) is concerned over the recent spate of air crashes.

SA sees spike in January air crashes – SA Civil Aviation Authority

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) attributes the rise in air crashes to non-adherence to the sector’s safety strategy.

SA sees spike in January air c

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) is concerned over the recent spate of air crashes.

South Africa reported 14 air crashes in January 2021 alone, the highest number since Black October 2008.


The Director of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Poppy Khoza, says four of these January aircraft accidents were fatal, with eight people losing their lives.

According to SACAA, this is the highest number of accidents since what has become known as Black October 2008 in which 20 accidents occurred, killing 26 people.  


Preliminary investigations into the accidents reveal the causes include human error by flight crew, followed “by aircraft operations and then mechanical or engine failure”. Khoza says the causes of the crashes are nothing new, so she asks why are they reoccurring.

“Could it be a matter of attitude and not necessarily aptitude?”

Director of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Poppy Khoza

In support of Khoza’s assertion on attitude causing accidents, the SACAA references a video of a Robinson R22 helicopter which was seen flying recklessly recently in what has been deemed a “show off session by the pilot” to his friends who were watching below.

“The manner in which the helicopter is flown goes against all characteristics of good airmanship, and possibly also against flight operations law and aircraft limitations. Regardless, the investigation will reveal the real facts regarding this matter”.

Director of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Poppy Khoza


The SACAA Director further implies that the aviation sector is not abiding strictly by the principles outlined in the General Aviation Safety Strategy designed to curb air crashes.

The country, in general, boasts a pretty good air safety record, one the SACAA does not want to be tarnished by reckless behaviour. Khoza goes on to say that air accidents don’t happen out of the blue, they are a result of a series of incidents.


Khoza urges the aviation fraternity to speak out when coming across reckless behaviour that could lead to fatal accidents. She stresses that a spike in accidents is something the industry in the country cannot afford.

“It is quite concerning that we have had so many accidents in just one month. We cannot afford to have a recurrence of the October 2008 statistics, hence we sound warning bells to all operators to ensure strict adherence to aviation safety and security regulations.

Director of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Poppy Khoza


Crop-spraying aircraft crash

On Thursday, 4 February – hours before the SACAA expressed their concerns over the spate of air accidents – North West police reported a light aircraft had crashed on a farm near a dam in Koster at approximately 10 am.

North West Police Spokesperson Aafje Botma says it was farmworkers who alerted their employer regarding the crash. When authorities arrived at the scene, they discovered the wreckage with one person inside burned beyond recognition says Botma.

Two weeks ago exactly, a 52-year-old man tragically died after the crop-spraying light aircraft he piloted crashed into a field between the Free State towns of Bultfontein and Hoopstad on Thursday night, 21 January.

The deceased pilot was named by authorities as Christiaan Korf Wiid who originally hails from Jankempsdorp in the North West. The deceased was reportedly an experienced pilot, having had flown for the country’s airforce and South African Airways previously.

Netcare rescue helicopter crash

Mere hours before Wiid’s aircraft went down, a Netcare emergency rescue helicopter en route to pick up a critically ill patient, crashed in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on 21 January, killing all five people on board. 

According to Netcare Chief Executive Officer, Richard Friedland, those aboard the helicopter were:

  • Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, an anaesthetist,
  • Dr Curnick Siyabonga (Siya) Mahlangu a cardiothoracic surgeon
  • Mpho Xaba, a specialist theatre nurse for cardiothoracic and transplant
  • Sinjin Joshua Farrance, an advanced life support paramedic at Netcare 911
  • The pilot of the helicopter, Mark Stoxreiter who worked for National Airways Corporation

It has emerged Mononyane formed part of the medical team that tried to save the life of Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu earlier on Thursday. Mthembu later succumbed to COVID-19 related complications.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed on Clement Manyathela’s Show on eNCA that Mononyane had delayed his departure to KwaZulu-Natal to assist with the efforts to save Mthembu’s life. The Civil Aviation Authority’s probe into the tragedy is also ongoing.

The tragic death of the healthcare personnel elicited shock from members of the public.