Chopper saves gogo, kids

2012-09-08 00:00

A 92-YEAR-OLD woman and her 12- and 10-year-old grandchildren, who became trapped on an island in the swollen Tugela river by a flash flood yesterday and were rescued by a police helicopter after their frightening, cold, and wet ordeal, will forever be grateful.

Police rescued Gogo Shuphu Duma, Nonqube Duma (12) and Buyangani Kunene (10), who were crossing the river yesterday morning when they became trapped on an island surrounded by the raging waters.

Gogo Duma said she was going to the pension pay point across the river with her two granddaughters who were on their way to school.

She said while wading to the island, as they normally do to reach the other side of the river, the river was not high even though it was raining.

“But when we got to the other side of the island, the river started flooding and we got stuck there.

“When the helicopter came to rescue us, I got scared thinking what is this thing going to do to me, but I was happy and thankful that they helped me and my grandchildren.

“I will forever be grateful for what they have done for me. This is the only way for me to get to the pension pay point. I would be happy if a bridge could be built.”

Lieutenant Jack Haskins of the search and rescue unit said the helicopter was skilfully navigated onto the island and the three were helped aboard.

“We had to fly under the mist and the weather was not on our side. They were airlifted to dry land where their families were frantic with worry waiting for them.”

Teacher Snothi Mtshali, who notified police of the plight of the trio, said: “My neighbours came to me saying pupils and an elderly woman were trapped in the river and I started calling for help. They waited for more than five hours in the cold and rain … We were relieved to see the helicopter arriving.”

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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