Daniella Potter
4 minute read
29 Nov 2016
5:00 pm

There was no leakage from the coffin – SAA

Daniella Potter

It was alleged that an SAA aircraft needed to be decontaminated after a coffin carrying human remains leaked.

SAA aircraft. Picture: Supplied.

While it was alleged that “leakage” from a coffin carrying human remains caused at least one South African Airways (SAA) flight to be delayed at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday afternoon, an inspection of the coffin found there was no leakage.

This is according to SAA spokesperson, Tlali Tlali, who explained, “There was luggage immediately next to the coffin that emitted an extremely unbearable smell which led the ground handling teams to suspect that the smell may have originated from the coffin. Sadly, the teams communicated as a fact, that the smell originated from the coffin when it never was. There was no leakage from the coffin whatsoever.”

He said the coffin was inspected on Monday and no leakage was found. “The coffin was taken to our warehouse and was again inspected when it was collected on Tuesday morning by the undertaker,” said Tlali.

He said two flights were affected by the delay associated with the removal of luggage and other cargo from a flight from Lusaka to Johannesburg on Monday. “The same aircraft was due to operate as flight SA 565 from Johannesburg to Durban and SA572 back to Johannesburg. We used a different aircraft to operate those flights,” he said, and added that SAA apologised to its customers for the inconvenience caused by the delay of the two flights.

Zelda la Grange, who served Nelson Mandela as a personal aide for 19 years and penned “Good Morning, Mr Mandela”, was one of the passengers affected by the delay. She tweeted on Monday afternoon: “Flights delayed on ORT because someone dropped a coffin being offloaded from Lusaka which contained human remains. NEE MAN!!!!”

She later tweeted: “Ok LEAKAGE from coffin. The entire aircraft has to be decontaminated. Says the captain. SO gross. Nevermind the delay.”

La Grange further credited the airline for keeping passengers updated, tweeting: “Credit where it’s due @flysaa keeping us updated. Thank you. (I’m waiting for the year end Braai invite as I’m more with you than anyone else.”

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) also confirmed that a flight from OR Tambo International Airport travelling to King Shaka International Airport was delayed on Monday afternoon. “It subsequently left the airport for its ongoing flight to Durban,” said an ACSA spokesperson, Caroline Parker.

Tlali further stated that SAA always took precaution when transporting human remains. “One of the requirements is that the human remains must be embalmed before transportation and must be accompanied by a permit and relevant certification when it is being lodged. We are satisfied in this case that there was compliance with our requirements and conditions,” Tlali said.

He was still awaiting information from the team that handled the bag which was believed to have been emitting the bad odour.

Caxton News Service

November 29, 2016, 2.30pm:

It is alleged that a ‘leakage’ of human remains from a coffin caused at least one South African Airways (SAA) flight to be delayed at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday afternoon.

Zelda la Grange, who served as Nelson Mandela’s personal aide for 19 years and penned “Good Morning, Mr Mandela”, tweeted on Monday afternoon: “Flights delayed on ORT because someone dropped a coffin being offloaded from Lusaka which contained human remains. NEE MAN!!!!”

She later tweeted: “Ok LEAKAGE from coffin. The entire aircraft has to be decontaminated. Says the captain. SO gross. Nevermind the delay.”

https://twitter.com/ZeldalaGrangeSA/status/803244573623365632

https://twitter.com/ZeldalaGrangeSA/status/803250583872348165

 

https://twitter.com/ZeldalaGrangeSA/status/803247180999958528

She further tweeted correspondence that she had received from SAA, stating that the flight had been delayed, and the airline apologised for the inconvenience, yet no reasons for the delay were given by SAA. She also tweeted that she had seen “a lot of notices of delays on the board”.

https://twitter.com/ZeldalaGrangeSA/status/803250115976663041

La Grange later credited the airline for keeping passengers updated, tweeting: “Credit where it’s due @flysaa keeping us updated. Thank you. (I’m waiting for the year end Braai invite as I’m more with you than anyone else.”

https://twitter.com/ZeldalaGrangeSA/status/803271041703362560

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) confirmed that one flight was delayed on Monday afternoon and that “it subsequently left the airport for its ongoing flight to Durban”. “It actually left at 16:30 yesterday afternoon and had been scheduled to leave at 15:55,” said an ACSA spokesperson.

ACSA could not offer further details regarding the flight and referred The Citizen to the airline.

SAA is yet to respond to questions on the incident.

A section on the SAA website details the protocols that need to be followed in the international and domestic carriage of non-embalmed, embalmed or exhumed human remains, which includes a section on coffins with human remains.

It is stated that a permit from the director-general of the department of national health and population development approving the removal as well as a certificate of endorsement approving the importation from the concerned consulate or embassy representing the country of destination was required.

The application for this permit further required a medical certificate stating the cause of death, a certificate by the foreign authority signing the approval of the importation of the human remains, a removal order from the District Registrar of Births and Deaths as well as a non-infections diseases certificate.

Caxton News Service