Police divers search for drowned women

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Police divers are working around the clock searching for bodies after a bakkie carrying 13 people was swept away by raging flood waters at Mahlabathini in northern Zululand on Sunday.

Eight people drowned when the bakkie was dragged into the swollen Wela River.

Divers have recovered the bodies of four people: Nondumiso Mthembu, Silindile Nene, Thubalethu Phakathi and Nomusa Phakathi.

Four survivors, Zamo Mbatha, Ncamsile Mthembu, Zandile Ndlovu and Thobile Nene, who managed to swim to safety, are still trying to come to terms with the horror of watching their friends drown.

They said it was a miracle that they are alive. They can't sleep at night and are having nightmares.

The women were on their way to a traditional courtship function when the driver of the bakkie tried to cross an overflowing river.

The engine cut in the middle of the river and the bakkie sank with most of the women still inside it.

Realising that the bakkie was being submerged, the driver abandoned it, leaving the women inside.

Thobile Nene said: "The driver ran to the river bank and shouted for us to get out of the vehicle. By this time, we were in the river and the vehicle had capsized."

Nene managed to grab Mbatha by the hand and swam to safety.

Police spokesman Vusi Ndlovu said yesterday that the search for four of the passengers was still on.

"These people are feared dead but we will not release their names until we know for sure."

Zululand district mayor Zanele Magwaza has expressed her condolences and has offered to help the families of the drowned with funeral arrangements.

"I was deeply touched by the families' plight."