Durban – Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) has ventured on a recovery operation via helicopter for the body of eThekwini Municipality employee Solomon Shandu, 52, who went missing on Saturday night during heavy rains and flooding.
Prem Balram, a spokesperson for the security company, said that the Rusa R44 helicopter and crew left at 10am for Ogunjini in Osindisweni, north of Durban.
Balram said Shandu’s family contacted Rusa after his vehicle was spotted submerged in a river on Monday.
“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.
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.”
Balram said Rusa received a call for assistance from a member of the public at about 10.46am when he noticed a portion of the roof of the white Toyota Etios protruding from the river. Reaction officers and Rusa medics were dispatched.
Balram said that on arrival, Rusa members found a crowd gathered on the banks of the river. It was confirmed that the driver lived in the area and had been missing since Saturday night’s floods.
“His vehicle is believed to have been swept off a bridge. The vehicle was registered to the eThekwini Municipality Water Department,” Balram said.
This is a developing story.