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Policewoman dies in KZN flood operation, alongside dog trying to help her

17 April 2022 - 19:12 By Mfundo Mkhize
Sgt Busisiswe Mjwara and K9 Leah died while searching for flood victims.
Sgt Busisiswe Mjwara and K9 Leah died while searching for flood victims.
Image: IPSS Medical Rescue

A policewoman, as well as a police dog who had tried to save her, died on Sunday during a flood search and rescue operation.

Sgt Busisiswe Mjwara, 42, was a police diver in the Pietermaritzburg search and rescue unit. She was conducting a search at about 11.30am in the Msunduzi river for three victims that had drowned earlier in the week, when she got into difficulty and drowned, police said in a statement. 

She was airlifted to a nearby hospital but declared dead on arrival.

During the same operation, K9 Leah from the Durban Central Search and Rescue unit also drowned.

Leah was attempting to assist Sgt Mjwara when she also experienced difficulties.

IPSS Medical Rescue said its "heartfelt condolences go out to friends, families, colleagues as well as K9 Leah's partner and handler, Sgt Mathews Phakati. We mourn the loss of these heroes, and they will be missed in the search and rescue community."

K9 Leah and handler.
K9 Leah and handler.
Image: IPSS Medical Rescue

Another SAPS 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 30 other police officers have been affected by the floods with some injured and the majority displaced after their homes were washed away.

National police commissioner Gen Fannie Masemola on Saturday led a delegation of senior managers from the Visible Policing and Operational Service Division to assess the organisation's 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 government's coordinated and concerted efforts to strengthen support to affected areas. 

Masemola said 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.”

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