The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, (SAPS) General Fannie Masemola has learned with sadness about the passing on of two members and a K9 as a result of the Kwa-Zulu Natal floods.
The latest casualty is a female police diver who was attached to the Pietermaritzburg Search and Rescue (SAR) police diving unit.
At about 11:30 on Sunday morning, 42-year-old Sergeant Busisiswe Mjwara was conducting a search in the Msunduzi River for three victims who had drowned earlier in the week, when she got into difficulty and drowned. The member was airlifted to a nearby hospital but was sadly declared dead on arrival.
During the same operation, K9 Leah from the Durban Central Search and Rescue (SAR) unit also drowned. According to reports, Leah was attempting to assist Sergeant Mjwara when she also experienced difficulties.
The third member, 31-year-old Constable Thandazile Sithole who was attached to the Durban Central Police Station, died when her home collapsed on her earlier this week.
At least thirty police officers have been affected by the floods with some injured and the majority displaced after their homes were washed away.
On Saturday, the National Police Commissioner led a delegation of senior managers from the Visible Policing and Operational Service Division where they spent the day assessing the organizations operational response, in providing support to the Ethekwini District.
Additional members and resources from the SAPS Search and Rescue (SAR) units in neighbouring provinces have been roped in to bolster search and rescue operations. The SAPS Airwing, K9 and police diving units as well as front line officers have formed part of governments coordinated and concerted efforts to strengthen support to affected areas.
The National Commissioner says the organisation has been dealt a blow with the passing on of its dedicated members.
“On behalf of the SAPS, let me take this opportunity to thank the deceased members for their service to the nation. These members died heroines, putting their country first. My heartfelt condolences goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of the two members, K9 Leah and those members who have lost their loved ones. A speedy recovery to those who have been injured as well as those who have lost their homes and belongings. As management we will be looking into the immediate needs of all affected and see how best we can remedy the situation. I also wish to thank members of the SAPS for upholding and enforcing the law during these challenging times as well as pay gratitude to those who remain at the forefront of the search and rescue operations”, said General Fannie Masemola.
Members of the Employee Health and Wellness (EHW) unit have since been dispatched to provide psychosocial as well as trauma debriefing counselling services to all affected areas including police stations and units.