17 Squadron to the rescue


AFB Zwartkop-based 17 Squadron took to the air on Monday for a pair of rescue missions on opposite sides of the Tshwane Metro.

First port of call for the Agusta A109 light utility helicopter and an Oryx medium transport rotary-wing aircraft was Centurion, almost due east of base in Valhalla. The helicopters brought 79 people stranded at the Centurion Lake Hotel on the eastern side of the now defunct water feature to safety. Reports have it that the hotel basement parking area and its ground floor, hosting reception, restaurants and conference facilities, was flooded by the overflowing Sesmylspruit, which becomes the Hennops River further west.

Three of the 79 hoisted from the building were taken to the nearby Unitas Hospital and Medical Centre for medical assistance.

The second stop was Mamelodi in the east of the Tshwane Metro where floodwaters reportedly put the lives of up to 700 people at risk when a squatter camp was swamped by torrential rain. This, added to already overflowing watercourses in the area, created a life threatening situation to which the SA Air Force (SAAF) responded following a National Joint Operational Centre (NATJOC) call according to SA National Defence Force (SANDF) corporate communications director Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi.

Five people trapped by the flash flooding were hoisted and moved to safety.

The tasking was called for at 12h30 and completed at 17h00 when both helicopters returned safely to base.

The rescue taskings were undertaken in accordance with the standing Operation Chariot tasking to assist the people in South Africa where needed, in according with the SANDF constitutional mandate.