Depressing drown diary

AFTER a quiet start to the month, the SAPS Search & Rescue Dive Unit responded to no fewer than five drown incident call-outs in the space of nine days.

And while attempts by onlookers were deemed to be brave, police warn that often these lead to more drownings.

‘Very often a non-swimmer jumps in to try and help another non-swimmer who has got into difficulties, and then we end up with two victims instead of one – which was the case in one of the recent incidents,’ said W/O W Herbst.

‘Besides going out of their depth or being caught in strong currents, the bed of the river or dam is often covered in grass which can entangle one’s legs.

‘This leads to panic which can also result in drownings.’

The following incidents were attended to:

• 5 March – Members were alerted about a drowning in the Tugela River which was in flood. This being the border between two policing areas, arrangements were made for police to walk the banks of both sides of the river while an aerial search also took place. No body has been recovered.

• 6 March – A call was received at about 9pm from Mahlabathini saying two boys went missing while swimming in a dam. While arranging to go out at first light to search for the victims, word was received that community members had recovered the bodies of two boys, aged 8 and 11.

• 7 March – The Dive Unit responded when police at Ingwavuma reported finding a child’s clothing next to a dam. There were no witnesses to what was a suspected drowning. Community members located the body of an 11-year-old boy in the morning.

• 12 March – Members reacted to a report that came in at 6pm, informing that a 27-year-old male was missing in the Umlalazi River. Owing to the darkness and uncertainty of a witness as to the exact location, the search began at daybreak. The victim was recovered at 8.15am at a depth of 4.5 metres.

• 13 March (Monday) – Together with members from Pietermaritzburg, a thorough search, including use of an aircraft, was made after reports of a 16-year-old male who had been swept into the fast-flowing, croc-infested Tugela River between Nkandla and Kranskop. He was apparently swept away by the current while attempting to cross. The search continues.


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Dave Savides

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