Team braves strong-flowing rivers to rescue people trapped in flooded areas, two bodies retrieved.
MEMBERS of the SAPS Kimberley Search and Rescue unit retrieved the bodies of two people who drowned during heavy rainfall in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district last week.
Northern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Mashay Gamieldien said on Tuesday that the members placed their own lives at risk by braving strong-flowing rivers in an attempt to rescue people who were trapped in flooded areas and to recover the bodies of those who had drowned.
“The body of a 14-year-old boy who is believed to have drowned was recovered from the irrigation dam at the Barkly West Pniel community farm on February 6,” said Gamieldien.
“The team also responded to a report of a family of five people who were in distress in the river in the Boetsap area on February 6. It is believed that the family were travelling in a donkey cart when it was washed away and they were trapped in the river.”
Gamieldien explained that Captain John Seeley and Warrant Officer Michael Korasie were airlifted from the Kuruman Airport by an SANDF Oryx helicopter and flown to the scene.
“They executed a ‘live-bait’ rescue, which involved the lifting of each family member from the river. The family was brought to safety and dropped off along the road where the owner of the farm further assisted them.”
Gamieldien added that a 40-year-old man who was also on the donkey cart was swept away and his body was recovered on Monday, February 8, at about 12.20pm.
“None of the other family members sustained any injuries during their ordeal.”
She said the team also rescued the driver of a bakkie that was swept away by the strong-flowing river near Spitskop Dam on February 7.
“They found the driver trapped between trees and brought him to safety, however, the vehicle was washed away.”
Gamieldien added that the team – under the command of Captain Seeley and made up of warrant officers Ronsard Allen and Michael Korasie, sergeants Lamberd Scholtz, Sebastian Wildt, Disang Moholoeng and Arnold Strydom and Constable Sheena Floors – formed part of a multidisciplinary humanitarian team headed by the premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, and various dignitaries including the acting provincial commissioner, Major-General Henriette de Waal, and the John Taolo Gaetswe acting district commander, Brigadier Francis Hender, which distributed eight tons of food to stranded flood victims on February 4.