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KZN floods claim the lives of a sergeant, constable and a police dog

Sergeant Busisiswe Mjwara was conducting a search in the Msunduzi River for three victims who had drowned when she got into difficulty and drowned. | Supplied

Sergeant Busisiswe Mjwara was conducting a search in the Msunduzi River for three victims who had drowned when she got into difficulty and drowned. | Supplied

Published Apr 18, 2022

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Durban – The SAPS is mourning the deaths of two officers and a police dog because of the KwaZulu-Natal floods.

National police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said the national police commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, had expressed sadness about the deaths of the SAPS members.

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Mathe said the latest casualty was attached to the Pietermaritzburg Search and Rescue police diving unit.

“At about 11.30am on Sunday morning, 42-year-old Sergeant Busisiswe 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.”

K9 Leah. | Supplied

“During the same operation, K9 Leah from the Durban Central Search and Rescue unit also drowned. According to reports, Leah was attempting to assist Sergeant Mjwara when she also experienced difficulties,” Mathe said.

“The third member, 31-year-old Constable Thandazile Sithole who was attached to the Durban Central police station, died when her home collapsed on her earlier this week.”

Mathe said at least 30 police officers were affected by the floods, with some injured and many displaced after their homes were washed away.

Constable Thandazile Sithole. | Supplied

On Saturday, Masemola led a delegation of senior managers from the Visible Policing and Operational Service Division who spent the day assessing the organisation's operational response in providing support to the eThekwini district.

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Additional members and resources from the SAPS Search and Rescue units in neighbouring provinces have been roped in to bolster search-and-rescue operations. The SAPS Airwing, K9 and police diving units as well as front-line officers have formed part of the government's efforts to strengthen support to affected areas.

Masemola said the deaths of the SAPS members was a blow to the organisation.

“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. A speedy recovery to those who have been injured as well as those who have lost their homes and belongings,” Masemola said.

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“As management, we will be looking into the immediate needs of all affected and see how best we can remedy the situation. I also wish to thank members of the SAPS for upholding and enforcing the law during these challenging times as well as pay gratitude to those who remain at the forefront of the search-and-rescue operations.”

Members of the Employee Health and Wellness unit have since been dispatched to provide psychosocial as well as trauma debriefing counselling services to all affected areas including police stations and units.

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