Plane victims' families 'shattered'

2011-08-17 07:20

Tzaneen - The families of the 13 people who died in the plane crashes in the mountains outside Tzaneen on Sunday wept bitterly on Tuesday as three helicopters and several rescue workers retrieved their loved ones’ remains from the crash area.

Several of the victims’ relatives underwent counselling at Fairview Guesthouse. Trauma counsellors, psychologists and several church ministers from the area assisted people there.

Groups of people sat around, wrapped in blankets, weeping.

“I don’t know how I’m going to live without him,” a weeping woman said.

One of the shocked family members said over and over, “I hate God, I hate God”.


DA councillor René Pohl said the people are shattered: “Some of them are so shocked; reality hasn’t sunk in yet.”

The media were kept away from the families.

Among the families were Andy and Bronwyn Doak, who lost both their daughters, Alexandra, 9, and Maddison, 7.

The girls were with an aunt in one of the Albatross planes that left Tzaneen for Rand Airport near Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. By late on Tuesday all bodies had been recovered.

An Oryx air force helicopter and a police helicopter were waiting at a landing strip on the banks of the Tzaneen Dam to fetch some of the bodies.

From there they were to be taken to the state mortuary, where relatives will have to identify them.

Wreckage of the two planes was found at about 08:00 on Tuesday in the mountains near Lekgalameetse, about 40km from Tzaneen.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said members of the Bakgaga royal village saw the aircraft go down and heard a crash. They helped the search teams find the wreckage.

Flew straight into mountain

Hannes Steyn, head of disaster management in the Mopani district, said the planes flew straight into a mountain about 15 minutes after take-off. There were six occupants in one of the Albatrosses and seven in the other. Their bodies were scattered over a large area.

Steyn said the two wrecks were found about 150 metres apart.

"The area is inaccessible and the helicopters couldn’t land. Rescue workers had to be lowered from the helicopters by rope.” The bodies were carried from the mountains on stretchers.

Aviation expert Brian Emenis said if the two planes had been flying about 200 metres higher they would have cleared the mountains.

The pilots, Brian Gruar and Peter Gildenhuys, spoke on their radios for the last time at 10:20 on Sunday. Steyn said no distress signal was received from either of the aircraft.

He also said no flight plans were filed before the two Albatrosses departed on Sunday morning. “There is no official air traffic control system from the Tarentaalrand airport.”

While the weather was fine during the air show on Saturday, it suddenly started deteriorating on Sunday morning and thick fog moved in over the mountains.

Recovery operations will continue on Wednesday.

- Were you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts

  • Ten Ras - 2011-08-17 07:35

    God be with u through out ths heartbreaking time...sad

      michaelp1 - 2011-08-17 08:56

      How, Antonio, does this prove there is no God???? What your question does prove though, is that you know NOTHING about God and therefore are NOT in a position to comment!!!

      rushi.nortje - 2011-08-17 09:50

      @ antonio... It's funny how nobody ever blames satan. I agree with michaelp1, you know NOTHING about God.

      Danny D - 2011-08-17 11:29

      Those like michaelp1 andrushi.nortje who indicated that theres is no God who are they worshipping then? My God is alive and will not stop saying this even if you come with most intelligent arguments in the world to deny his existence. Its because of HIM that you are both alive. Remember thatand say thank you to HIM.

      Chloe - 2011-08-17 12:40

      Hi Boxertronic, so please tell us how good is your Xhosa or Afrikaans or Zulu? You think you could right a nice error-free sentence in one of those languages? Are only English grammar experts invited to comment here?

      Will2.0 - 2011-08-17 13:09

      I think Boxertronic was referring to Danny D's wrongful accusation of michaelp1's denying of a god. But thanks for 'righting' your comment. I also think anyone trying to use a plane crash to prove the existence, or otherwise, of a god is idiotic to the point where it can only be a long series of miracles that lead to their survival to adulthood. The amount of people, unfit to reason even on a basic level, yet still alive and even prospering in this day and age is possibly the most compelling argument for the existence of a higher being.

      allows - 2011-08-17 13:25

      Why has this turned to God and if he exists or not? These are families who are going through a terrible ordeal. Good grief people!!! Have some tact.

      ivory - 2011-08-17 13:26

      I hate it when God gets blamed for tragic situations like this. The very people that hate God when something bad happens, doesn't even have a relationship with Him during good times or thank Him for the good that happens

      SGL - 2011-08-17 14:40

      I firmly believe that we are all put on this earth for a purpose. Once we have fulfilled this "purpose", our time on earth is done. Most of us don't know what our purpose is, but God does know. Each and every person on those planes had fulfilled their purpose and was in the "right place" ie the plane and God called them home. Many of you won't agree with me and that's ok. But this is my opinion and this is how I have dealt with losing my husband (he was 32), my father, my brother and all the other people close to me whom I have had to say goodbye to. Think about it...

      KarenBee - 2011-08-17 16:10

      I am so sorry and heartsore about this tragedy and my heart goes out to family and friends who have lost their loved ones in such a terrible manner. Please, accept my sincerest condolences. I've read all of the comments and felt that I had to say something. I am not a religious person but that does not mean I am a savage or insensitive to others. I simply do not believe that there is justification for assigning any and every tragic event to a nebulous deity or trotting out the timeworn phrase "it was God's will" or that "God has a plan for everyone", other than if it makes you feel better within yourself, then it's ok for you. SGL's comment that this is how she has coped with the deaths of her loved ones, highlights exactly what I am trying to say here-this "faith" has helped her get though these very sad and heavy losses, as it has done for many others. I don't feel that its ok to buy into something as patently silly as stumbling unknowingly and blindly around on Earth waiting until said nebulous deity decides its time to push a button and zap me out of existence-for what purpose exactly? What purpose could there possibly be? It doesn't work for me. Does that make me evil or wicked? I think not. I too have lost close relatives and family members and I do know what it's like to go through that awful mind-numbing pain and loss-but I will not lay the blame on a non-existent entity for their deaths. Thats a cop out.

      Percy Higgins - 2011-08-18 00:47

      Ivory raises a valid point.

      CITIZEN - 2011-08-18 00:52

      it is not about GOD here but the families wholost loved ones i know how it feels to loose a child it is bad realy bad my condolences goes out to everybody out there who lost loved ones only GOD can help you no one else

  • Oom Filimon - 2011-08-17 07:40

    I truly heart-breaking tragedy..........I have a daughter and grand-daughter...........cannot even imagine how the parents of these children must feel......sooooooo sad........My condolences to all those who lost family and friends in this tragedy!

      Queteepie - 2011-08-17 10:52

      I totally agree with you, i feel sick to my stomach. My daughters are also 9 and 7 and i cant imagine carrying on if something had to happen to them. It is so terribly heart breaking!!!!!

  • Manuel - 2011-08-17 07:41

    This is so sad our thoughts and hearts to the families

  • Pixie1984 - 2011-08-17 07:41

    RIP. My condolences to the families, especially the Doak's. It's not natural to have to bury your own children. :'(

  • McDaNife - 2011-08-17 07:44

    My question too why fly when you know the weather changed from good to bad before they took flight. Condolences to the family.

      Jacqui - 2011-08-17 16:55

      @ McDanife - this is the 21st century!! - we have been flying through thunder storms and bad weather for years, why is it a problem now? and i don't remember reading in the article that the plane crash was due to bad weather! seriously!

  • Ants - 2011-08-17 07:47

    Heart Breaking! My deepest sympathies - RIP

  • Timothy - 2011-08-17 07:52

    Absolutely unbelievable. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the relatives. I can not beleive that the piolets did not know the lay of the land and did not take off in another direction and once above the cloud change course to Joburg. Very, very sad. RIP.

  • Nick Garas - 2011-08-17 08:06

    There is a lot involved in this accident, so difficult to explain on this forum, human error?,peer pressure?Overconfidence? wrong instrument readings? Flying VFR and possibly should be IFR? it is difficult to answer here.Investigators will find it-but it is trully painful!!! may they all RIP I also mourn them as part of the aviation fraternity.Cannot condemn anyone,but learn by these tragic mistakes.!!

      jjacgilbert - 2011-08-17 09:16

      It is not the first accident of this nature that occured in these mountains. About 10 years ago a plane also crashed into the mountains and the occupants lost their lives. Pilots should be very cautious because they have a huge responsibility.

      Winsome - 2011-08-17 14:41

      Did both of these pilots have IF rating? What a tragedy though - for all concerned. My soul mate was killed in an aircraft accident and my life was never the same again - so awful.

      Jacqui - 2011-08-17 16:58

      @ jjacgilbert - u can't just blame the pilots - u drive a car and should also be very cautious as you also have a huge responsibility. and two accidents in 10 years, does not sound that bad to me concerning how many people are killed daily on the roads.

  • Valdi - 2011-08-17 08:08

    One can only hope that air traffic control will be improved as a result of this tragedy. May God grant these families peace.

      Conquest11 - 2011-08-17 08:24

      @Valdi...this has nothing to do with Air Traffic Control...they perform a stirling job.

      Victoria - 2011-08-17 12:03

      @Conquest II. I agree wholeheartedly. It is the pilot in command who has the ultimate responsibility. My husband is a charter pilot and he spends ages planning his routes and alternate routes etc.

  • Raeez - 2011-08-17 08:09

    My condolences to the families. Very sad news.

  • Timothy - 2011-08-17 08:21

    By no means am I pointing fingers at anyone, it is just such an avoidable tradgedy.

  • PinkSparkle - 2011-08-17 08:24

    Regardless of who or what was at fault, it is over and done with and cannot be reversed. The only thing we can do know is keep these people in our thoughts, and ask God to be with their loved ones, even though it feels to them as if He has forsaken them. As a mom, my heart breaks for the parents who lost both their children. This is an unbelievable tragedy and pointing fingers will not bring anyone back.

  • BeautifulEden - 2011-08-17 08:26

    so sorry for the families. u are in my thoughts xxx

  • Peter - 2011-08-17 08:28

    Why would a loving, forgiving GOD do something like this ? Because HE didn't. Choices were made by mortal beings. Not GOD's choices. If we believe in a GOD that would do such a thing then why do we have religion in any form ? My thoughts and prayers are with each and everyone of you. May they all rest in peace in the heavenly home that has been prepared for them. God Bless you all.

      Unskinny Bob - 2011-08-17 13:26

      Keep deleting my post. If it were not God's will, then is he not almighty? Do mortals choices supersede God's will?

      Shukran - 2011-08-18 10:00

      @ Mary If it was human error then the human that erred can be blamed. The existence or non existence of any gods is irrelevant here. Except that he (god) could have made the mountain 200 metres lower.

      Shukran - 2011-08-18 10:00

      Sorry, I meant @ Margie

  • Asil - 2011-08-17 08:36

    I have two young sons - just the thought of losing them both in such a terrible way is devastating. I don't know how I would be able to live on. Deepest sympathy to all the affected families on the loss of your loved ones. If there is any mercy to be found in this I am sure there could have been no time for fear or realisation of what was about to happen. Instant peace.

  • Maria - 2011-08-17 08:40

    I would also be shattered. Relatives and friends are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Cristina - 2011-08-17 08:42

    So sad!!, condolences to all the families concerned in this dreadful accident...a sad day indeed!

  • Edith-Ann - 2011-08-17 08:44

    My heart and prayers go out to the families. So so sorry.......

  • Karin - 2011-08-17 08:44

    My condolences to the families - It is heartbreaking.

  • kaMazibuko - 2011-08-17 08:46

    Condolences to the family.....this is sad. On a side note, I wish News24 will be more balanced in their reporting. Why didint they bother interviewing the family members of the more than 10 people that died in a taxi accident in KZN last week? We'd like to know how their families are coping with this. I understand that black people die in taxis every week and you dont care about but some of us do. Even when people are missing it's the white people(e.g allan duncan) that are highlighted on News24, why not tell the public when a black person has gone missing ? Their families will also benefit from millions of South Africans recognising their missing persons' face.

      Kenno - 2011-08-17 09:06

      Why are you turning this tragedy into a racial thing? Any death in an accident is a tragedy

      Mannie777 - 2011-08-17 09:20

      Thanks for playing the race-card again. This is 2 PLANES that went down at the same time - a very rare thing. If you were not so focused on race you would have noticed this! Idiot.

      Timothy - 2011-08-17 10:45

      Please do not start a racial topic on this page, let these people greive over their losses. If we want to start a racial thing then lets do it on another news topic.

      kenneth.roselt - 2011-08-17 10:49

      Ask the taxi driver next time you catch one to drive like a normal human being... then when a taxi accident happens it might be news worthy.

      winston.mullany - 2011-08-17 12:36

      There is always a black person who has to raise the race card. Typical. But you right, black people die in taxi's every week, ever ask yourself why.

      kosmos303 - 2011-08-17 12:45

      Thing is air accidents always attract more attention, no matter what race the victims are. People die by the millions every day from smoking-induced cancer around the world and never a mention in the media, but you can be assured that any air accident is going to be reported on. Just the way it is bro.

      allows - 2011-08-17 13:30

      kaMazibuko taxi accidents happen daily in this country because of their killer drivers. The newspapers would be interviewing daily if they were all the be interviewed. Plane crashes happen very rarely!!!

      ivory - 2011-08-17 13:37

      @kaMazibuko This plane crash was an accident! There is a difference between accident and negligence. Your taxi drivers' driving skills are directly related to almost all of the taxi accidents on our roads. I feel very very sorry every day, for the passengers in the taxis, because I have not met a single taxi driver that can actually drive!!!

      JCTF - 2011-08-17 19:01

      kaMazibuko: you make a half good point but then ruin it with racial allegations. Why are you doing that?! You point is good but your reason is incorrect. This has nothing to do with colour. For years, light aeroplane crashes have been reported while car accidents aren't. Don't start your racist drivel on this page.

      Joan - 2011-08-18 09:30

      Watch on a Monday at 18h00 SABC 2 "When duty calls" mising races blacks included. We are suppose to be a Rainbow Nation please check your facts before you point fingers and furthermore, I personally feel that you are very insensitive to the families, friends of the people who lost their loved ones. Blacks also lose their lives in air crashes. A black pilot took off from Rand Airport a year or two with black and white passengers and crashed on take off onto the Germiston Golf Course next to the Airport. There was a lot of press on it. Please be compassionate and not racist. I live in the area of the Rand Airport and you will be shocked how many accidents took place. What about the plane with a Company's Staff Members of all races of passenger that took off in 1999? and burnt to death just after take off. Lots of coverage. Blacks, coloured,Indians and Whites were aboard. Check Check Check. Compassion Compasssion!!!

      Shukran - 2011-08-18 10:05

      @ kaMazibuko - I thought the same thing and did not say anything for fear of awaking the trolls like you seem to have done. I am with you, and see no racism in your question. Respect!

  • PrinceCharle - 2011-08-17 08:48

    Terrible accident this - so sad for the families who have lost loved ones.

  • Oncall - 2011-08-17 08:49

    I am going to be haunted for years to come by the air to air photo showing the two little girls looking out of the aircraft windows on their way to the airshow. Two beautiful angels. May they RIP and condolences to all the families with loved ones aboard the two aircraft.May they have the courage to move forwards and rebuild their shattered lives.

  • opiniononly - 2011-08-17 08:57

    A guy I used to work with was killed in a helicopter crash with his wife and child in Dullstroom, because of poor weather conditions. A colleague had begged them not to fly, they did anyway. I think If the weather is bad, only pilots extremely familiar with the surroundings should be allowed to take off. This is so very sad, their poor families.

  • O-Kay - 2011-08-17 08:59

    Condolences to the families, and to the Doak's may you find peace. I in no way believe that anyone is to blame, not even the pilots. These were experienced pilots and if one plane had crashed then I could believe that one pilot may have been confused, but for two experienced pilots to make exactly the same judgement call?????

  • jjacgilbert - 2011-08-17 09:02

    "I hate God, I hate God" made my cry. Oh my God Yahweh be with these bereaved families please!

  • vanetia.mentor - 2011-08-17 09:06

    if it were an airshow flight why were there passngers?was it part of the show?

      Propjockey - 2011-08-17 09:54

      Not part of the show. A ferry flight of the aircraft. Because of space, non-paying passengers were offered the opportunity to go with.

  • Anastasia - 2011-08-17 09:08

    There comes a point, where we move from reporting news to invading the private lives of people who inadvertently form part of the original news. Leave the "shattered" people alone now. Move away from a story that was, and let these people grieve and try to re-build their lives. Their grief, should not be our news, or our business.

      Willie Bouwer - 2011-08-17 09:44

      I can promise you that You and Huisgenoot will definitely invade the privacy of these people and try to make money out of this tragedy. May God comfort these people and give them peace.

      Propjockey - 2011-08-17 09:51

      Agreed. Attention must now be shifted to the reasons. This will come out in the investigation. 'Pilot error' will be the result. But the rules of flying in these circumstances have to be addressed. VFR means having visual contact with the ground AT ALL TIMES. When here is ANY doubt that this is not possible, the flight shall NOT proceed. Using IFR (instrument rules), a flight plan MUST be lodged and the flight level (altitude) is determined by ATC (air traffic control) dependant on the aircraft capabilities. IFR requires a rating in the pilot training. Onward and (intelligently) foreward.

  • shane82 - 2011-08-17 09:20

    God be with all the families in this terrible disaster . Noone can really imagine -the real extend-what the families go through .All i can say is - God be with you all throughout.

  • Lee - 2011-08-17 09:28

    My heart goes out to all those that have lost their loved ones and words cannot explain how they must be feeling. It seems to me that the pilots felt they were at a safe hight considering the bad weather and clouds and because the visability was so bad I don't even think they knew they were about to hit the mountain or saw it coming and flew as if nothing was in front of it as I am pretty sure taht the plane behind would then have attempted to avoid it but as the media say, there was no stress call or anything and both planes went down the same way. I don't even think the plane behind saw what happened to the first because of the visability with the mist etc. This is just my feeling and not fact and if true makes me feel a lot better knowing they did not go through trauma beforehand or feel anything afterwards. RIP all of you, your memories will be treasured by many.

  • David - 2011-08-17 10:08


  • baudtin1 - 2011-08-17 10:35

    Basic Aviation Rules Broken!!! 10 innocent people now dead...

  • karen saunders - 2011-08-17 10:35

    My heart goes out to the families. I lost my sister in the Plettenburg Bay crash. You may never have answers. I am so sorry, I feel your pain.

  • Sugar11 - 2011-08-17 11:23

    Its amazing how people blame God for mishaps....but everyone forgets that the Devil loves tragedy, thats were he thrives. Condolences to the family. Hope they find God in this tragedy.

  • Shaleeni Ranchhod - 2011-08-17 11:26

    RIP Smiley

  • ruda.sealie - 2011-08-17 11:37

    Shame man.

  • vivienne.j.king - 2011-08-17 12:04

    Thoughts and prayers are with you Bronwyn, Andy and other families involved in this tragedy. God Bless (Vivienne) Hannah's Mum

  • Hillton Jobs - 2011-08-17 12:15

    I can only imagine what those families must be going through .. God be with you all.

  • pwhanekom - 2011-08-17 12:19

    What do you want from God? You want Him to pull you around like a puppet on a string? Or do you want free will? God doesn't make bad things happen, but he also doesn't interfere! He ONLY promises to BE WITH US THROUGH THE VALLEY OF DEATH, He NEVER promised to keep you out of harms way! Don't use tragedies to prove/disprove God's existance, look at how people with and without God live their lives through and after a tragedy!

      O-Kay - 2011-08-17 12:58

      This was just a knee jerk reaction to grief. This person obviuosly believes in God or they wouldn't feel abandoned by Him. With time they will turn to God to help them through their grief. If they didn't believe in God they wouldn't have spoken these words. No-one is perfect, and especially so when they are traumatised. Don't judge them in their hour of need!

  • coconuts - 2011-08-17 12:55

    I wonder if the govet will pay for the funerals as they are going to assist with the taxi victims - or is it just blacks funerals they assist with. What is the criteria they use to make a decision to pay for funerals

  • swanepoelbe - 2011-08-17 13:08

    It's terrible. We went through the same thing...air crash...Sterkte!!

  • SGL - 2011-08-17 14:30

    I was chatting with a pilot earlier today and his theory is that these planes were flying in "formation" and in the heavy mist, they got too close to each other and the wings connected, sending them down. He says these were experienced pilots and the navigation equipment on the planes were in order. He therefore believes they were above the mountain and plummeted when the wings were damaged. These planes have done various airshows around the country without incident. Unfortunate circumstances. RIP all the victims and condolences to the families.

  • Averishta - 2011-08-17 14:51

    My heart goes out to the families and friends of the people who lost their lives in this tragedy! You are in our prayers in this impossible time!

  • michaelp1 - 2011-08-17 15:00

    @DannyD - please read my post CAREFULLY and quote to me where I say there is NO god??????? Can you read???

  • michaelp1 - 2011-08-17 15:02

    @allows - this debate is because Antonio posted that "this proves there is no God". (that post has subsequently been removed)

  • Maria Badenhorst - 2011-08-17 16:58


  • Snoopy88 - 2011-08-17 19:42

    I saw that photo of the two little girls peering out of the plane window on the front page today... just heartbreaking. My condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

  • Snoopy88 - 2011-08-17 19:48

    I hate flying... especially taking off and landing. I was on a flight where the pilot pulled up and aborted a landing at the last minute... You'll never find me on a small plane. Its a bloody sewing machine with wings!

  • Mrdoit - 2011-08-17 20:15

    @ mzibuko u are dem right they think new24 is for people( whites) blacks are not people

  • Janet - 2011-08-17 20:54

    There are just no words!!!!! I am a mom and a gran and am devastated for all! May God carry you all gently in his hands. May you find the strength to go forward somehow. I so wish I could help. So so so sorry!

  • indi3lov3 - 2011-08-17 21:17

    If a news bit can actually proof that God does not exists, I wonder what the Norway Attacks proved last month ??