Kruger helicopter dead named


Captain Jacobus “Jakes” van Rensburg was one of three 5 Special Forces Regiment members killed when a 15 Squadron Agusta A109 light utility helicopter crashed in the Kruger National Park.

The other Special Forces members from the Phalaborwa-based unit were Sergeant Paulus Ndishishi and Lance Corporal Bheki Cele.

Captain Phil Chabalala was commander of the rotary-winged aircraft that, according to reports, was deployed in Kruger for four days as part of the national anti-rhino poaching operation. His flight engineer was Sergeant GP Ruiters, the SANDF said in a statement.

A preliminary investigation is underway to establish the sequence of events leading up to the crash.

This is the fourth helicopter of the same type to have crashed since their acquisition as part of the Strategic Defence package.

A May 2009 crash into Woodstock Dam, below the Drakensberg, that killed all three aboard was deemed to have been the result of pilot error. Two hard landings in November and December 2010 resulted in the SAAF A109s briefly being grounded. The incidents were ascribed to tail rotor failure and a broken swash plate control rod. Last year the SAAF said all A109 problems had been subsequently identified and rectified and the fleet was operating normally with various helicopter squadrons across the country.