Tragic end to Sunday walkabout

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

A leisurely Sunday afternoon walk for two friends turned into a nightmare when they were robbed and thrown off a bridge into the Tugela River.

One of them managed to swim to safety, while the other drowned.

Police said the two friends were walking along Lyell Street in Ladysmith, northern KwaZulu-Natal, when they were attacked by five thugs. They were held at gunpoint and forced into a red bakkie. They were robbed, assaulted and thrown off a bridge.

Police spokesman Captain Charmaine Struwig said: "The victims were robbed of cash, wallets and cellphones.

"One of the friends swam to safety and alleges that he helped his friend to the river bank, where he left him and went to look for help," she said.

Struwig said when the friend returned to the river bank with the police they could not find the man where he had apparently left him.

"Police launched a search but could not find the man. The police dog unit joined the search and found the deceased at 9pm, lying in the water," she said.

The name of the deceased has not been released until his next of kin have been informed.

No arrests have been made and police are investigating a case of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping.

l An off-duty police captain was shot and wounded after being caught in an exchange of gunfire between two rival gangs at Steadville in Ladysmith on Saturday .

The officer, whose identity has not been revealed, is in a stable condition at a local hospital.

One of the gangsters was shot and killed and another wounded during the shoot-out, which broke out after a June 16 rally at the local stadium.