- Edited by By Bev Mortimer
Yesterday the SA Air Force from Gqeberha, the K9 Search and Rescue Unit and the SAPS Diving unit were involved in a three-hour recovery operation, to airlift the body of a 47 year-old suspected suicide victim from a depth of 180m from the top of the bridge that is 216m high.
Police have identified and announced the name of the victim as Matthys Cornelis Bothma from Gauteng, who they say “plunged to death off the Bloukrans bridge between 6- 7 November.
On Monday this week SAPS Stormsriver were alerted round 4 pm to a suspicious motor bike parked partially in bushes near the Bloukrans bridge. Immediately a search was conducted to locate the owner of the bike.
Using binoculars, police spotted something colourful in the bushes below the bridge which raised their suspicion.
Early on Tuesday morning, 8/11 Gqeberha K9 Search and Rescue Unit, SAPS Diving Unit, Metro EMS (Gqeberha and Sarah Baartman) and SAPS Storms River members were deployed to the bridge. The Search and Rescue team decided the only way to get to the body was through the use of air support.
On Wednesday retrieval attempts were suspended due to strong winds and rain so the body retrieval exercise was carried out yesterday.
Police opened an inquest docket. And Sarah Baartman District Commissioner, Brig John Lebok, commended the search and rescue team responsible for the recovery of a suspected suicide victim .
Brig Lebok said: “This was one of the most difficult recoveries that our members have undertaken. As part of their duties, they risked their own lives by abseiling from such a precarious height.
“It is clear that these members are well-skilled and trained in their field of search and rescue. The services of the SA Air Force members is appreciated and we thank them for their assistance. The efforts of the entire team is highly commendable,” added Brig Lebok.