A KwaZulu-Natal policeman, his wife and a friend who went missing four days ago, are suspected to have been caught in flash floods.
Warrant Officer Jakes Juggan, his wife Molly and friend Ashok Rajoo, all in their 50s, were last seen when they left the Juggan’s Dundee home on Thursday night.
The officer’s sister-in-law, Donna Juggan, said the rest of the family was alerted to the couple’s disappearance by their son, who lives with them.
“We immediately knew something was wrong because that is so out of character for them to not come back home and not to tell anyone,” she said.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said the trio left in a police vehicle, and that the tracking device on the vehicle was not working.
The community of Dundee has rallied together to search for the three, with the search centred around a river near which Jakes’ cellphone signal was last picked up.
On Saturday, Dundee business owner Tom Honiball used his private plane to search Gregory’s Nek, about 20km from Dundee, towards Vryheid.
“The rivers were very badly flooded, we think they may have been caught in there. There is a low level bridge over the river which is now about 30 metres wide, it’s normally much smaller. The search is mainly concentrated in those tributaries which eventually flow into the Buffalo River,” he said.
Honiball said he had decided to help search as he felt for the family.
“Everybody knows him (Jakes) as a dedicated police officer who helped anyone who needed help.”
Morne Potgieter, of Newcastle-based Ithemba Security Services, was also searching.
While aerial searches were conducted, Potgieter said, police divers had searched the water.
His company was using various technologies in the search and was able to search into the night, calling it off only at 2am on Saturday, before resuming the search at dawn.
Other volunteers had met up at the Dundee police station, where Jakes worked, to co-ordinate and start the search for a third day.
Donna said the family was grateful that so many people were helping in the search to find them.
“We are hopeful that they will be found, we don’t believe they have disappeared for good or that anything has happened,” she said.
She said the family had no reason to suspect foul play.
“I don’t think anyone would want to hurt them. Jakes served his community, that’s why he was in the police force for so long.”
Police urged anyone with information to contact them.