Missing man’s car recovered from river

2012-10-24 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG family’s anguish was set to continue as their father’s waterlogged car was recovered from the Msunduzi River yesterday, but with no sign of the missing man.

Asogan Govender’s SUV was discovered seven kilometres from the low-level bridge it was washed off after a heavy downpour early on Sunday morning.

Govender’s Kia Sorento was discovered by a fisherman in the river near Russell Lower Primary School yesterday morning.

His daughter, Chenise, said she did not know what to expect as the car was winched out of the water.

When it was established that the car contained no body, his nephew Yugusan Govender said the family would continue searching for his uncle.

“We will walk along the banks of the river looking for him. Maybe we will find something,” he said.

The boot of the SUV was wide open when it was pulled out of the river, with the interior filled with mud and water.

Sobantu resident Zamani Xaba, who was fishing along the river yesterday morning, told The Witness that he knew a man had been swept off the bridge in his car.

He had seen a helicopter flying along the river the day before and had heard of Govender’s plight. When he noticed the car in the water, he therefore immediately called the police.

The Sobantu community gathered on the banks of the river with Govender’s family and friends yesterday, as all waited patiently for the SUV to be removed from the river. This took more than an hour-and-a-half to achieve, with police divers battling the swift flowing river.

Govender was driving from Raisethorpe towards his Scottsville home at about 1.30 am when his vehicle was swept off the Woodhouse Road bridge between Sobantu and Scottsville at the time.

Councillor Thandi Matiwane said the bridge had been a problem for years, with motorists and pedestrians dying when the river overflowed.

“Because of traffic, some motorists use this bridge to avoid busy routes. We have been losing lives because our municipality doesn't want to build a proper bridge,” she said.

Former deputy municipal manager for infrastructure, services and facilities at Msunduzi Municipality Phil Mashoko said in 2009, when Sphesihle Mabaso (8) drowned, there were plans to build an elevated bridge at Woodhouse Road as part of the municipality’s bridge construction and maintenance programme, but no money had been allocated yet.

Swastika Hansraj (21) drowned at the bridge in 2010 and Andile Maroba (7) in 2006.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said the bridge was due to be upgraded.

“Funding constraints at this stage are an obstruction. It must be noted that this is not the only bridge noted in the municipal programme for an upgrade …” he said.

The search for Govender (44) will continue today.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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