Police believe the 19-year-old was drunk at the time and fell, other reports claim she was pushed, while others believe she fell to her death after walking along the edge of the barrier at the roadside.
Durban – Mystery surrounds the death of a 19-year-old student who fell off a bridge on the N3, just after the Mariannhill Toll Plaza, in the early hours of Saturday.
However, Andile Meyiwa’s family have said they do not believe reports that she fell to her death after walking along the edge of the barrier at the roadside.
Initial reports claimed that Meyiwa had been walking with friends along the N3 when she apparently got into an altercation with someone who allegedly threw her off the bridge.
But police said they did not suspect foul play and claimed Meyiwa had been drunk and fell from the bridge while she and two friends were waiting for her boyfriend to pick them up.
According to police spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbele, Meyiwa and her friends hitched a lift with a man in a blue VW Golf. Mbele said the young women had been walking towards Durban where they planned to find out about furthering their studies.
“On the way, the driver had offered the girls alcohol, which they drank. At the Assagay off-ramp, the girls alighted from the vehicle. Andile called her boyfriend to fetch them and he suggested that they wait near the Mariannhill Toll Plaza,” Mbele said.
She said the girls were intoxicated and Meyiwa allegedly joked about jumping off the bridge.
Mbele said that while Meyiwa’s friends had continued to walk alongside the road, the student had walked on the ledge of the bridge.
“Her friends told her to stop and they continued walking. Meyiwa then fell off the bridge and into the gorge below. The matter was reported to the Hillcrest SAPS and her friends have given their statements. No foul play is suspected at this stage,” Mbele said.
According to ER24 spokesperson, Ineke van Huyssteen, when emergency teams arrived at the scene, Meyiwa was lying approximately 40-metres from the bridge, in a gorge.
“The SAPS Search and Rescue, Mountain Rescue and Metro Rescue all assisted with retrieving the woman from down below. The rescue took approximately two hours,” she said.
Van Huyssteen said Meyiwa had sustained critical injuries and advanced life support interventions were immediately initiated.
“She was taken to hospital for further medical care but, unfortunately, a short while later she succumbed to her multiple injuries in the hospital and was declared dead,” she said.
However, speaking to The Mercury, members of Meyiwa’s family said that they did not believe that she had accidentally fallen off the ledge.
A relative, who asked not to be named, said her friends’ statements did not make sense.
“She was a vibrant and loving person who was looking forward to turning 20 in August. We simply do not believe that she decided to walk on the (ledge of the) bridge and fell off.
“It does not make any sense to us,” the relative said.
She said the version of events that Meyiwa’s friends gave to the police and what they had told the family when they arrived to sympathise on Saturday afternoon, were very different.
“When they came to speak to us and after hearing what they had to say, the family got very angry and chased them away,” the relative said.
The relative said Meyiwa was a first-year student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal who was studying towards a degree in social sciences.
She lived at the Kinross residence where students are mourning her death.
A fellow student said: “Andile was a very sweet girl and although we were not really close friends, she would often come to sit in my room and chat. She would call us ‘dadewethu’ (which means my sister).
“When we heard of her death, we were overcome with sadness.
“She is so young and the police need to investigate this further.”
She said students had heard that Meyiwa and her friends had been waiting for her boyfriend and that she had fallen over the bridge.
When The Mercury yesterday visited the site where Meyiwa had allegedly fallen, it was apparent that it would have been difficult for anyone to balance on the slanted concrete ledge, let alone walk on it.