'We thought we were going to die': Commuter recalls terrifying moment bus got stuck in Soweto floods

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  • A woman whose bus was stuck in a flooded road in Gauteng on Friday morning WhatsApped her GPS location to emergency services. 
  • Her quick thinking helped rescue teams find the bus and bring the 65 passengers to safety.
  • The woman said everyone on the bus thought they were going to die. 

A woman who reached out to emergency services and sent them her GPS location over WhatsApp was able to help save 65 passengers in a bus stuck on a flooded road in Soweto on Friday morning.

Bonolo Nketu, 22, saw her life flash before her eyes when the bus she had boarded at around 05:30 to go to work got stuck on a flooded road in Orlando, Soweto. 

The bus had been heading to Johannesburg's northern suburbs.Nketu said it was raining that morning as she prepared to make her way to work.  

"All I remember hearing was the bus going into the water, and [then] it got stuck," Nketu said. 

She said the bus windows became cloudy, and when she looked out, she saw water rising.

 "We were scared because the rain was not stopping. We were scared the water would go higher ... we were struggling to get out of the bus," she said. 

Sixty-five passengers were rescued from from a bus stuck on a flooded road with raising water levels following heavy rain that stuck Gauteng Friday morning.

According to Nketu, some of the passengers who were already in panic mode started making phone calls to ask for help, but nobody came to their rescue. 

"I went on the internet to search for the emergency rescue [team], and then I called and told them what happened, and they came to our rescue," she said. 

Nketu said: 

People on the bus were scared and started shouting at the driver, asking him why he drove into the water ... I don't understand why he would force [us] into that situation.

Lucky for Nketu and the other passengers, not much water had entered the bus.

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While on the call with the rescue team, Nketu said fear started to creep in as she thought she was going to die. 

"I was so scared, to be honest. I thought I was going to die because of how much it was raining. It was like the rain was not going to stop. I was crying while on the call and the team kept telling me to calm down," Nketu said. 

She said she managed to send the rescue team a message on WhatsApp and drop her GPS location. 

Speaking to News24, Emer-G-Med's emergency dispatcher Ryan Thomas said he was the one who had received the call from "a frantic" Nketu. 

He said the situation had left her confused to the point where she did not know where she was. 

Thomas said, "I asked her to drop me her GPS location so that we could track her and when we were able to locate her, the team went down to save them."

During the entire incident, Thomas remained on the call with Nketu, calming her down and reassuring her that she would be okay. 

"She was crying, but after I asked her for her location, she managed to calm down. I think that's when she knew that help was on its way," Thomas said. 

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Multiple rescue units from the City of Johannesburg, SAPS, Emergency Medical Services, and First Assist Commercial Heavy Duty Towing division were sent to the location. The rescue services helped all the passengers to safety.

According to Nketu, the rescue team carried them out in groups using floating boats. 

"I am glad they could save us, really, because it almost felt like we were not going to make it."

Transport was arranged for those who wanted to go to work, but I just wanted to go home to sleep everything off," she said. 

Nketu, who has now had time to digest her ordeal, remains grateful for the teams that rescued them. 

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