They said neither the High Commissioner in Mozambique nor the Department of International Relations and Cooperation assisted, and help only arrived when a team from the Limpopo government flew to the country.
Family spokesperson Bongani Diako said: “The absence of the South African High Commissioner, Mandisi Mphahlwa, on this matter to allow families the opportunity to engage him with their frustrations is rather concerning and hurtful. Our experience with the embassy was hurtful, he was far from the situation and did not offer any assistance. Even when we went to the embassy’s office in Mozambique to request assistance for transport, we were kept waiting for more than an hour. We didn’t get help. We were using taxis to travel around, we basically had to find our way during the search.”
The tragedy occurred when eight friends from Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West travelled to Mozambique as part of a birthday celebration last week went swimming in the sea and four were swept away.
The bodies of Lesego Matsepe, Mmatholo Mogafe and David Kaise were recovered on Thursday, while Gregory Mfune’s body washed up on Friday.
Diako said the families were told that their loved ones drowned as a result of strong tides.
“We were hoping that the rights of South Africans would remain guaranteed irrespective of where they are in the world. We were confronted with a situation where we had to co-ordinate and fund the daily search missions on our own.”
Dirco spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said the department and Limpopo provincial government assisted the families when a team was set up to help them deal with the trauma.
“The High Commissioner designated staff to assist. He is in the northern region on assignment. We as government do not pay for anything related to rescue. The rescue was led by Mozambique.”
He said a special team, which consisted of social workers and psychologists, assisted the bereaved family members and surviving friends.
“The survivors are on the way home, except one who came back two days ago for medical attention,” said Mabaya.
The bodies of the four are expected to be repatriated to South Africa on Monday.