“We also extend our sympathies to the government and the people of Malaysia, as well as all countries that have lost their citizens in the tragic crash,” Zuma said in a statement.
“South Africa calls for a thorough, transparent and independent investigation to determine the cause of the incident.”
Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia, crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing nearly 300 people.
Earlier on Friday, the international relations department said none of the passengers on the aircraft was travelling with a South African passport.
“We are aware of reports that there were two men with links to South Africa on board. According to consular policy, the country where the passport was issued should assist in terms of consular services,” spokesman Nelson Kgwete said at the time.
Kgwete said South Africa was ready to help where it could.
It was reported on Friday that two South Africans were on the plane. One was helicopter pilot Cameron Dalziel. He was from South Africa and had moved to Malaysia,
Dalziel’s family confirmed to various media houses that he was on the flight. His brother-in-law Shane Hattingh said the 43-year-old pilot, with two decades of experience, had two sons, Sheldon, 14, and Cruz, four, the Star newspaper reported.
“He’s survived [helicopter] crashes and to die in a fixed-wing craft, it’s a cruel joke,” Hattingh was quoted as saying.
He said the Dalziel family had been in Malaysia for four or five months.
According to the French news agency Agence France-Presse, the aircraft was allegedly shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
The Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists fighting the government have denied responsibility for the incident.