Durban - Tributes have poured in from emergency services and law enforcement agencies after news broke that SAPS Sergeant Busisiwe Mjwara, 42, and rescue dog Leah had been killed in the line of duty.
Police said that at about 11.30am on Sunday morning, Mjwara was conducting a search in the Msunduzi River for three victims who had drowned earlier in the week, when she got into difficulty and drowned. She was airlifted to a nearby hospital but was sadly declared dead on arrival.
According to reports, Leah was attempting to assist Sergeant Mjwara when she also experienced difficulties and drowned.
Rescue spokesperson Warren Brauns said: “Today (Sunday), an angel earned her wings. A K9 has reached the rainbow bridge. To your family, friends, partners and colleagues, our thoughts are with you.
“Our sincere condolences to the family and all who have had the privilege to work alongside the two of you. Rest in peace. Your shift is done.”
Marshall Security spokesperson Tyron Powell said: “Not every story has a happy ending, and sometimes the heroes don't survive.
“We salute every emergency services personnel that has been putting their lives on the line since Tuesday, to find others. For every sacrifice they have made to bring closure to the mourning families.”
Mi7 National Group spokesperson Colin Davids said: “They lost their lives in service of humanity today (Sunday), sacrificing their own to save so many others during rescue attempts following the devastating floods in Durban.”
IPSS Medical Rescue spokesperson Dylan Meyrick sent heartfelt condolences to friends, families, colleagues as well as Leah's partner and handler, Sergeant Mathews Phakati.
“We mourn the loss of these heroes, and they will be missed in the Search and Rescue community,” Meyrick said.
KZN VIP Protection Services spokesperson Gareth Naidoo said their prayers and heartfelt condolences went out to the heroes they had lost during the floods.
Medi Response spokesperson Paul Herbst said they extended their heartfelt condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the Pietermaritzburg-based SAPS Search and Rescue member and the SAPS Search and Rescue K9, who lost their lives today in the line of duty, while conducting search and rescue operations.
“The loss is a tremendous one and we thank both members for their service and sacrifice,” Herbst said.
National police commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, expressed sadness about the deaths of the SAPS members.
“On behalf of the SAPS, let me take this opportunity to thank the deceased members for their service to the nation. These members died heroines, putting their country first. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family, friends and colleagues of the two members, K9 Leah and those members who have lost their loved ones,” Masemola said.