PRETORIA (AFP) – A cargo plane carrying the remains of 74 South Africans killed in a building collapse in Nigeria landed in Pretoria on Sunday, two months after the accident.
The remains of another nine South Africans among the 116 people killed on September 12 when a multi-storey guesthouse collapsed at a Lagos mega-church will be repatriated after the DNA identification process is complete.
The chartered Antonov plane laden with four mortuary vans landed at the Waterkloof air force base shortly before 10am (0800 GMT) in an event carried live by public broadcaster SABC.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was to preside over the official ceremony to receive the bodies later in the day.
Nigeria released the bodies on Saturday after a high-level government delegation led by Jeff Radebe, a minister in the presidency, spent a week in Nigeria to fast-track the repatriation process.
Radebe had met President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja to discuss the speedy repatriation of the remains.
The head of the mega-church and one of Nigeria’s most popular preachers, TB Joshua, suggested that a low-flying aircraft reportedly seen over the building four times before it came down was to blame for the collapse, and said he had been targeted in a deliberate attack.
But expert witnesses at a coroner’s hearing ruled out aerial sabotage or an explosion.
The court was told that the guesthouse did not have planning permission.