Heroic Man Hailed For Saving 17 Pupils From Drowning In Flooded River: Video
A KwaZulu-Natal man jumped into a flooded river to save 17 primary school pupils from being swept away after a taxi driver tried to cross a flooded low-lying bridge.
The incident occurred shortly before 3pm on Friday in the Ndabayakhe area of Empangeni, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The Empangeni river was flooded after heavy rains.
Thokozani Mkhwanazi said he was at his home when he saw a minibus taxi trying to cross the overflowing river. He was worried as other vehicles were turning back.
He said the taxi driver stopped briefly and then attempted to drive across the bridge.
“I thought he was going to turn, but he kept going. When he was in the middle of the river, the car stopped and started drifting. I ran down the hill to the river along with other residents.
When I got there, the children were screaming and crying, and they couldn’t open the door because the water was blocking it. There were other children on the roof screaming for help,” he said.
The raised side edges of the bridge prevented the taxi from being swept down the river. While bystanders called emergency services, Mkhwanazi decided to jump in the water to rescue the children.
Watch the video below;
“As I approached the car, the children who knew me started shouting my name. ‘Uncle Thokozani, help us,’ they shouted. I went to the car, and pulled one of the children through the window … Community members approached and we took them out one by one.
I was scared as I got into the river, but my biggest concern was that the rescue services would take time and be late.
“After pulling out all 17 children, I pulled out the driver, who was also still in the car,” said Mkhwanazi. According to Mkhwanazi, everyone in the area knows the dangers of attempting to cross the river after heavy rains.
He said last week, one person drowned and his body was later recovered after attempting to cross the bridge.
Mkhwanazi said the pupils were from different primary schools including Ngweni Primary, Phesheya Primary and Thembelihle Primary. He said pupils were forced to skip school whenever the river overflowed.