Durban - A second person is believed to have been in the vehicle with eThekwini Municipality employee Solomon Shandu, 52, who went missing during heavy rains and flooding on Saturday night in the Ogunjini area, Osindisweni, north of Durban.
Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) spokesperson Prem Balram said that while conducting a recovery operation, the pilot was informed by Rusa officers on the ground that a second person, who is believed to have been in the same vehicle, is presumed drowned.
“According to eThekwini municipal management, it was established during the aerial search that an employee identified as Simphiwe Norman Cele was driving the vehicle and had transported Solomon to a funeral in Harrismith, Free State, on Saturday,” Balram said.
“Cele was en route to drop off Shandu at his residence when the white Toyota Etios was swept off a bridge. Both missing persons are employed at the eThekwini Municipal Water Department in Ottawa, KZN.”
The vehicle was located on Monday in the river.
A victim’s shoe was also recovered.
Balram said the search continued.
Earlier, the Daily News reported that the Rusa R44 helicopter and crew left at 10am for Ogunjini.
Then, only Shandu was reported missing.
Balram said Shandu’s family contacted Rusa after his vehicle was spotted submerged in a river on Monday.
Balram said Shandu was employed at the municipality as a driver. He last made contact with his family after he left a funeral in Harrismith, Free State, on Saturday at about 6pm.
“He was returning to his home in eNtaphuka, Ndwedwe, during a storm when his vehicle was swept off a bridge. The helicopter will be searching inaccessible parts of the river and surrounding areas,” Balram said.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala said that at midday on Monday, Ndwedwe police received a report that a municipality vehicle was floating in the Umdloti River in Ogunjini.
“The Search and Rescue team conducted a search for occupants, but they were not found. The search is still ongoing,” Gwala said.
The eThekwini Municipality said: “It would be insensitive to comment on this matter at this stage. The city sympathises with all the families of those still missing, and we pray that they are found.”
“Reaction officers, paramedics and SAPS Search and Rescue members entered the water in an attempt to locate his body inside the vehicle, without success,” Balram said.