Frantic search for doctor

2019-10-31 12:03
Police Search and Rescue’s Warrant Officer Karl Gouws searches Howick Falls with police dogs for signs of missing city doctor Vidwan Singh.

Police Search and Rescue’s Warrant Officer Karl Gouws searches Howick Falls with police dogs for signs of missing city doctor Vidwan Singh. ( Moeketsi Mamane)

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An intensive police search of the Howick Falls area from Tuesday evening and throughout Wednesday found no trace of missing city doctor Vidwan Singh.

Singh, a well-known Raisethorpe doctor, has been missing since Tuesday afternoon. He was last seen leaving his surgery on Chota Motala (Old Greytown) Road.

The 72-year-old doctor’s white BMW was discovered near the popular tourist site at Howick Falls on Tuesday afternoon and a search for him ensued that night from about 6 pm to 9 pm, but search teams had to call it off because of harsh weather conditions.

Police sources said Singh’s car was found smashed on the back right side. Inside the car, which has been impounded, was an envelope addressed to Singh’s wife and children, but the contents are unknown.

That envelope is with police forensics, The Witness understands.

Sources, however, would not rule out any possibility, and stressed that searching the Falls was just to eliminate one possibility of Singh’s whereabouts.

Police on Wednesday morning deployed members of the Search and Rescue team to comb the extensive bush at the base of the Howick Falls.

Teams searching the foliage around the waterfall found no sign of Singh. Later in the day police divers spent hours searching the water, braving windy conditions, but found nothing.

Dr Vidwan Singh.  

Divers, accompanied by police dogs, appeared to pay special attention to one side of the large body of water at the base of the waterfall.

A large crowd of people gathered at the viewpoint of the Falls, and police had to erect tape to clear people away.

Earlier in the day drones were deployed to look for any signs of Singh, but also uncovered nothing. One drone got hooked on a tree and was lost.

Numerous false reports that Singh’s body had been found in the Falls and other rumours that he was actually at home circulated on social media, causing a stir among his family.

Several emotional members of the doctor’s family waited anxiously for any information from rescue teams.

They chanted prayers on Wednesday afternoon as divers searched for Singh.

Neren Anand, Singh’s brother-in-law, said the family became suspicious that something may have been amiss when Singh, a man of habit, did not return home after finishing up at his practice on Chota Motala Road.

He said Singh’s car was discovered near the Falls, and police had followed a car with a Mpumalanga registration which had been in the area but found it to be a false lead.

“By 3.30 pm he didn’t come home and we thought it was strange. We reported it to the police, then called the tracking company.”

He said the family waited until 9 pm at the Falls for police to search on Tuesday night.

The family of Dr Vidwan Singh hold a small prayer at Howick Falls yesterday while police search for Singh’s whereabouts.

Anand said Singh had been suffering with a stomach problem and was due to have surgery this week. He said Singh had been having “restless nights”, but said the family noticed nothing to indicate Singh was having personal problems. He said the family are desperate for closure and refuse to jump to any conclusions about what may have happened. “We don’t know what happened. We just want to find him.”

He described Singh as the family’s father figure, and said the family were distraught about the situation.

“We just saw him on Diwali [on Sunday] and we had a Hawan (a Hindu prayer) and he was fine.” Anand added: “He is such a cautious man. The kind of person who would get worried if you were riding a bicycle.”

Anand appealed to anyone with information to come forward.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joshua Maistry said Singh was last seen leaving his surgery at noon on Tuesday.

The search at the Falls was suspended at nightfall on Wednesday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police rescue

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