The DA had received information from “two independent sources” that an Air Force Boeing 707, or an aircraft chartered to the defence force, was currently in Haiti, Selfe said in a statement.

“I have consequently written to Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota asking him to either confirm or deny that the SANDF currently has an aircraft in Haiti.”

Lekota’s spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said on Thursday “as a matter of courtesy, the minister will respond to Mr Selfe’s letter”. There was no further comment.

In his statement, Selfe said the situation in Haiti had deteriorated rapidly since the official state visit by President Thabo Mbeki in early January, and political instability had escalated further since Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed on Sunday.

“South Africa’s involvement in Haiti has been widely condemned and interpreted as tacit support for President Aristide’s authoritarian regime,” he said.

The government should take South Africans into its confidence, and say whether the SANDF sent an aircraft to Haiti, and if so, what its mission was.

It should also reveal its role with respect to Haiti and Aristide, what this had cost South Africa so far, and what it was expected to cost in the future.

“It is essential that government does not risk further damage to its international and domestic credibility on this issue, and provide an urgent and comprehensive response,” Selfe said.

Edited by Anthea Jonathan