Beeld reports that the Delta Airlines Boeing 777's most important engine failed, forcing the flight to make an emergency landing on Ascension Island, 1 600 km west of Angola, near St Helena, on Thursday morning.
Jacques Palin, a qualified pilot who has been working as a graphic designer in Knoxville, US since 1998, was one of the passengers on board flight DL201.
He told the paper: "I was with my girlfriend, Susie Isaac, an American, on the way home after visiting family in South Africa.
"About six hours after we took off, I heard a strange noise from the right and felt how we were losing height and that the plane was turning."
Palin said that the plane circled the island to use up fuel and make the plane lighter. He added that the landing was a bit rough, but quite good under the circumstances.
Angela Kontou of Delta Airlines in South Africa said the 269 adults, five children and 15 crew members on board all disembarked safely.
Meanwhile, Delta commercial manager in South Africa, Margaret Copeland, confirmed that a relief plane has picked up the passengers and is due to land in Atlanta in at 09:30 (South African time) on Friday morning.
"The crew took the decision to make the emergency landing as a precautionary measure. The aircraft is still on Ascension Island and the maintenance team still need to submit the full assessment. It was a safety issue and the landing was done in the safety interest of all those on board."