Directors survive crash

2012-09-13 00:00

TWO local directors of Treated Timber Products yesterday survived a crash landing in a light aircraft outside Pietermaritzburg Airport.

The Cessna had just taken off from Pietermaritzburg Airport at about 7.15 am when it lost power, crossed Gladys Manzi Road and landed in the Ukulinga Research farm. It dragged with it a fence that blocked nearby Haworth Road.

Passenger Gary Wessels said he was reading The Witness at the time of the incident and did not see what was happening.

“I only noticed when I heard a big bang and realised the plane was hitting the ground. We are lucky to be safe.”

Wessels was with his business partner, Lloyd Holley. They are directors of the company and were on a business trip to Nelspruit when the accident happened.

Their part-time pilot, Ben Butcher, declined to comment on the incident, but said the plane belonged to Treated Timber Products.

Khulekani Mkhonza, a senior technical assistant at the Ukulinga farm, was among the workers who were not able to get past the accident scene on Haworth Road to reach work.

The stranded workers were told by police that they would have to wait three hours before they could pass.

Paramedics and the Msunduzi fire department attended the scene.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the undercarriage of the plane was damaged.

He said police were not investigating a criminal case, but a report about the incident had been made.

Marié Bray of the South African Civil Aviation Authority said the pilot reported loss of power 200 metres away from the airport and that the authority was investigating the crash.

In May this year, four people died in two plane crashes in KwaZulu-Natal.

A couple from Piet Retief in Mpumalanga en route to Cape Town were killed near Greytown, while in Margate an experimental aircraft crashed, killing passenger Hazel Nash and pilot Rob Mirtle at an airshow there. The experimental aircraft had recently been serviced, The Witness reported at the time.

Last month, a plane crash-landed in Cato Ridge. The pilot and passenger survived.

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