PRETORIA: The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has dismissed reports that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe's private jet had made an emergency landing in New Zealand last week.
In a statement, SANDF spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said during the plane's first scheduled approach to the airport in New Zealand, the pilots noted a warning light, suggesting that there might be something wrong in the plane's brakes or tyre.
"As a precautionary measure, they decided to miss their first landing slot in order to circle the airport whilst verifying the cause of the warning light. As a standard procedure, the airport placed emergency vehicles on standby."
Mababya said the warning light was due to a faulty sensor, indicating overheated breaks.
"The faulty warning light was cleared and the plane landed safely on its second slot without any problems," he said.
Motlanthe's jet was involved in a similar incident back in 2009, when his plane was returning from an African Union (AU) summit in Libya. His jet made an emergency landing on an unlit runway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after missing a fuel stop.
But the SANDF has assured that Motlanthe's safety and that of other top political officials will not be compromised.
"We would like to reassure all South Africans that the SANDF provides the safest air transport to the political principals and our pilots are among the best in the world. The safety of all those we transport is our highest priority at all times," added Mabaya.
Motlanthe was on a working visit to New Zealand to discuss the strengthening of bilateral relations between the two countries.
He also met the Springbok team in Wellington to give them moral support ahead of their opening World Cup game against Wales and later attended the match, which saw the Springboks win.