Flight FA 411, the FlySafair aircraft that was scheduled to depart King Shaka International Airport, in Durban, on Friday morning, at 6:15, to OR Tambo International Airport, in Johannesburg, was grounded after crew members discovered an abandoned foetus in the waste management system.
The local airline, known popularly for its cheap flights and R5 ticket specials, issued a statement on social media, alerting its customers on the reason why the flight was delayed,
TRAVEL UPDATE: FA 411 from Durban to Johannesburg – https://t.co/psFGnv52mf
— FlySafair (@FlySafair) June 21, 2019
Why was FlySafair FA 411 delayed?
The airline was forced to ground its aircraft and instruct all boarded passengers to disembark the flight after a final check-up of all systems before take-off yielded a gruesome discovery.
“Upon final preparations of the waste management system for the departure of [the] flight, our technical crew discovered what appeared to be an abandoned foetus within the system,” the airline noted in a statement.
Since releasing the statement, FlySafair has refused to comment any further on the situation, citing that the matter now rests in the capable hands of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
“We will be doing everything in our power to aid authorities in the necessary investigations and thank our loyal customers for their patience with the resultant delay,” Kirby Gordon, FlySafair’s Head of Sales and Distribution added.
Legal recourse for abandoning fetal remains
The law around the disposal and abandonment of fetal remains is complex in South Africa. According to Lorraine du Toit-Prinsloo from the University of Pretoria’s Forensic Medicine Department, and co-author of the study, Managing the remains of fetuses and abandoned infants: A call to urgently review South African law and medicolegal practice, it is very rare that the person responsible for the disposal of the foetus is found guilty of murder.
“Section 113 of the General Law Amendment Act 46 of 1935 criminalises concealment of birth. It provides that a person commits this offence if he or she disposes of a body of a newly born child without a lawful burial order, and does so with the intention of concealing its birth.
“The offence stands regardless of whether the child was born alive or died before, during or after birth. The Act does not define ‘child’. However, S v. Molefe provides that ‘child’ refers to a fetus that has reached at least 28 weeks’ gestation. One will therefore not commit this crime if one’s conduct involves a fetus of less than 28 weeks’ gestation,” Du Toit-Prinsloo writes.
Therefore, based on the findings of the SAPS’ investigation and the gestation of the foetus, the person responsible for the disposal may not even be charged with a crime.
According to the latest flight status of FA 411, the aircraft is still delayed indefinitely.