Body of woman drowned in Uvongo lagoon surfaces at last

2011-03-18 00:00

POLICE have confirmed that the body of 27-year-old Veronica Khubeka, who drowned in the Uvongo lagoon on January 6, was recovered on Wednesday afternoon.

Her distraught family had to wait for two and a half months before the lagoon released her body back to the surface.

Members of the SAPF Search and Rescue unit arrived on the scene after receiving a call from the lifeguards at Uvongo beach to report that a beachgoer had spotted a body floating on the lagoon’s surface. Khubeka’s body was recovered at around 4 pm and taken to the Port Shepstone State Mortuary, where a post-mortem will be conducted.

As there were no recent drownings in the Uvongo area, local eyewitnesses guessed that the recovered body could only be that of Khubeka, who tragically drowned with her step-daughter while both were swimming in the lagoon.

The body of Thobeka Hendry (14) was recovered by police divers on the same day, but subsequent days of searching for Khubeka’s body proved fruitless.

Captain Mfeka from the SAPF in Margate confirmed that Khubeka’s family had been contacted to establish what she was wearing on the day of her drowning to see if it could be matched to that of the recovered body.

“It was confirmed that she was wearing a black costume on the day of her drowning and this matched what was found on the body,” he said. “The identification of the shorts was also a match.” He added that the body was in an advanced stage of decomposition.

Khubeka’s sister, Sanele Khubeka, was travelling to Port Shepstone from Vryheid yesterday to positively identify the body.

Mfeka acknowledged that this would be difficult, given the state of the body adding a DNA test would identify the body as that of Khubeka. The Witness spoke to Veronica Khubeka’s fiancé, Patrick Hendry, who was on the beach with her the day she drowned.

Hendry had watched while divers recovered his daughter’s (Thobeka) body and then returned to the beach for the next three days, hoping that they would find Khubeka’s.

“They just phoned me and told me they had found the body,” said Hendry while he was on his way to the Port Shepstone mortuary.

“Until I see the body I am still unsure — maybe then I will have some kind of closure.”

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