Ladysmith and Pietermaritzburg K9 Search and Rescue units continued searching on Monday for two teenagers still missing after a fully laden taxi was swept off a low-level bridge in the Mgenya area near Weenen during a flash flood on Saturday evening.
The names of the teens have not been released by police.
Eyewitnesses told the Ladysmith Herald, that the taxi had got caught on rocks in the river after being swept away by the raging floodwaters and 13 occupants, including the driver, managed to get to safety, before the taxi washed away.
“It was like within seconds, the taxi broke loose and washed down the raging river,” said one of the witnesses.
Ladysmith K9 Search and Rescue, Warrant Officer Jaques Meyer was called out and immediately started the search for the four people that had been reported missing. His team has since been joined by K9 Search and Rescue from Pietermaritzburg.
With help from members of the community, Meyer had managed to recover the two bodies of a 48 year old woman, Zamo Ngobese and 38-year-old man, Saizi Chonco.
Ngobese was found in the Umtshezi River, approximately 25 km from the scene.
Police told the Ladysmith Herald, that the recovery of Ngobese’s body was incredibly challenging as raging waters had made it extremely difficult to enter. “A rope had to be used and with the help of the community, we managed to bring her body to the bank,” said police.
Chonco’s body was found by community members entangled in a tree, just a few metres from the bridge.
Ward 21 councillor, Bheksia Dlala said that the community is shocked.
“This is the second time that a taxi has been washed away. In 2015 three people were washed away, when a taxi was washed away at the same bridge.”
Community members gathered at the Weenen Police station to help police in the search for the missing two teens. Various teams broke up and police said the search would continue along the river until the mouth of the Tugela River.
KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka said at the weekend he was saddened by the incident, as lives continued to be lost in inclement weather.
The department said disaster management teams are still trying to locate the two people who are still missing - Nompilo Ziqubu and Nomonde Mkhize.
MEC Hlomuka also called for an investigation into the circumstances of the accident to determine whether there was any negligence on the part of the driver in crossing the flooded river.Sources told Ladysmith Herald that police are looking into allegations that the driver was under the influence of alcohol and possible charges of culpable homicide arising from the incident.