Double tragedy struck in the Langkloof area in Bergville on Sunday afternoon, 18 February, after two children, aged 8 and 14, were swept away by strong currents as they attempted to cross the murky waters of Tugela River on their way home.

Rescue teams from Okhahlamba, SAPS K9 unit and police divers from Pietermaritzburg spent 11 hours in the strong currents of the Tugela River in an attempt to recover the bodies of the two children.

The Okhahlamba Search and Rescue crew, under the guidance of Superintendent Freddy Halgreen were the first to respond after calls were made from community in the area. “At the scene we had established where the children were last seen and then called in SAPS Ladysmith Search and Rescue to assist with the search,” said Halgreen. “The current was incredibly strong and crews battled the murky water. The river also splits into two, which made the search twice has difficult.”

Police divers from Pietermaritzburg were called in to search the deeper areas of the river, while community and officials searched along its banks. At around 11pm the first body was recovered and the other a short while later. The two children have not yet been identified. Police have opened an inquest to investigate the drowning.