Police dog gives rescue divers clues

2014-02-11 00:00

A POLICE dog appears to have identified the general area where the body of a Johannesburg businessman who went missing during the Midmar Mile on Saturday could be found.

The search and rescue team is being led by Lieutenant Jack Haskins and his dog Udain, who had seemingly isolated the area where Thabo van Straten (43), a director of a Johannesburg medical company, might have drowned during the event on Saturday.

Udain led the police to an area near the finish line at around 4 pm yesterday.

The dog uses its sense of smell to pick up gases released by bodies underwater. It then swims in a circle to mark the area for divers to search.

Police spokesperson Lolly Moodley said the divers started their search at 1 pm yesterday. “There was another event that finished at around 1 pm. That was when we began our search because we could not search between events.”

He said the search area was vast and the body could be found soon or it might take days.

“Depending on the temperature of the water, we could find the body soon. If the water is warm, the body will float up quicker.

“Another difficulty is that the divers can only see up to two metres in the water. It’s like being blind, so they have to use their hands to feel around,” said Moodley.

The search was called off in failing light at about 6 pm, but is expected to resume this morning.

The police had been searching for Van Straten’s body since Saturday, when he did not arrive at the finish line where his fiancée was waiting for him.

Members of the Van Straten family joined his fiancée Shene Jones at the dam yesterday.

His mother and two sisters had travelled from Johannesburg and were seen hugging Jones next to a makeshift base at the dam from where the family watched the divers.

Van Straten’s brother in-law, Riaan Schoeman, said the family was devastated by the tragedy.

“His mother and his two sisters are already down there. What they want now is closure.

“His colleagues and friends from the medical company had also taken part in the Midmar Mile and are all down there. This is a big tragedy for all of us,” he said.

• Meanwhile, a Pietermaritzburg resident has been identified as the woman who drowned at Salt Rock on the North Coast at the weekend.

Police said Samke Mkhize (34) drown-ed while swimming on Saturday.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.