SUV swept away, man missing

2012-10-23 00:00

A PANICKED call for help is the last that the family of a Scottsville man heard of him after his car was allegedly swept off the low level bridge near Sobantu in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Asogan Govender (44), the owner of Express Trailer Spares in Mkondeni, made a desperate phone call to his family to say his Kia Sorento SUV had been washed off the bridge by rising floodwaters after a heavy downpour. That was the last they heard from him. They rushed to the bridge to try and assist him, but he was nowhere to be found.

Govender was travelling home from Raisethorpe to Scottsville on Woodhouse Road which crosses the Umsunduzi River.

Govender’s cousin, Kenny Naidoo told The Witness that he received a call from him at about 1.30 am on Sunday morning. Naidoo said his cousin was in a state of panic.

“He was just two minutes away from home if he was there [Woodhouse Road]. He called and told me that he had been washed away in his car at the bridge and he needed help.

“We rushed to the bridge. When we got there the water was too high. We couldn’t do anything, as we could not see his car,” said Naidoo.

The family gathered at the bridge yesterday desperately waiting for word on their loved one.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan confirmed that police were still looking for him.

“The police search has since intensified and the police diving unit and the police air wing have combed the area, without success. The search will continue [today] as the water levels are high,” Jeevan added. Police are expected to re-swim parts of the river and dive into two deep sections.

Yesterday, a police helicopter searched downstream and police divers braved the still-swollen river as family and friends waited on the river banks.

Govender’s nephew, Yugusan said they tried to locate the car with the help of the car’s tracking system, but there was no trace of it.

“We were told that if it’s in the water the tracker won’t work,” he added.

Pedestrians and motorists were still using the bridge yesterday.

Anyone with information about the incident can contact the branch commander of the Mountain Rise detectives, Colonel Chris Wiles on 033 387 9621 or 079 500 1306, or Govender’s brother Elvis Govender on 082 874 8995.

Municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma did not respond to questions about safety at the bridge.

Meanwhile, MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal, Senzo Mchunu expressed support to the families of three teachers who are still missing at Chibide River in Umzinyathi District. Five people were travelling in a light motor vehicle on Saturday and were attempting to cross a bridge when their vehicle was swept away into the flooded river. Two passengers escaped without injuries.

The three other occupants, Phakamani Skhakhane (a teacher from Magogo Primary), Sabelo Buthelezi and Sizwe Ngobese (both teachers from Mthashana FET College in Nquthu) are still missing.

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