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Police continue search for men drowned in Sterkspruit early this year

Nov 8, 2019
Police continue search for men drowned in Sterkspruit early this year

Sterkspruit - Police in Sterkspruit continued with their search for two drowned men in efforts to bring closure for the families.

South African Police Service (SAPS) Aliwal North acting Cluster Commander, Colonel Mpho Rabela, and all Cluster Station Commanders, together with the East London Search and Rescue Diving Unit, and Cradock K9 Unit, descended in Palmietfontein - Sterkspruit, to resume a search of two males, aged 21 and 17, who drowned in the Rooivaal River on the 7th of February this year.

"As the police vehicles parked on the bank of the dry river, which is nestled between two mountainous villages of Palmietfonten, an old man looked down on the hill he stood on, catching the glint of the 09:00 am morning sun off the roof of the vehicles parking below," described police spokesperson, Captain Ursula Roelofse.

"Within seconds, the elderly man – relying on his walking stick to support him down the hill, hurried down - his heart eager to reach to vehicles below, but his body restricting his pace.

"Upon reaching the members of the SAPS and community members, who gathered to conduct the search for the remains of his son (Tebang Moahloli (21)), in the Rooivaal River, 72-year-old Ketu Moahloli was ready to begin with the search."

Meanwhile, the Aliwal North Cluster Chaplain, Reverend (Rev) Monare, went to visit Tebang Moahloli’s cousin, Kadi Moahloli’s (17) family in their home.

"Ntswaki 'MaKadi' Moahloli (43) watched the Reverend with apprehension - or maybe it was anticipation, walking slowly from the gate entrance towards her modest home."

As Rev Monare reached the house, he was greeted by MaKadi, her cousin brother, and her 14 year-old daughter. Rev Monare then explained to the family that the SAPS has not forgotten about her son, and is still committed to finding the two males’ remains.

“We understand that you struggle with finding closure because you do not have a body [remains] to bury. And we are aware that resuming the search will bring up trauma, but we cannot rest without bringing you and your family the closure you need.

"We may not find the remains, but we want to keep the hope that we will, and if we are not able to- we want you to be satisfied that the SAPS has done everything it can,” Rev Monare said. MaKadi brought down her head, tears dripped down to her dress – sorrow rose to fill the house, her grief was palpable.

One group of the search team began looking from the area where the two cousins drowned earlier this year. It was stated that the two cousins were attempting to bring a raincoat over to Tebang’s brother across the river, when they were swept away by the strong river current, as the rain poured heavily.

The other group walked the floor of the parched river to where to Rooivaal joins the Orange River, which flows up to Upington in the Northern Cape. The search did not yield the desired results.

Colonel Baninzi, Sterkspruit Station Commander – on behalf of the Aliwal North Acting Cluster Commander, thanked all the specialised branches of the SAPS for their commitment and dedication in the efforts of bringing both families closure. Chief Mokqanya also thanked the members of the community, who came to assist with the search.

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