Body of fourth South African tourist recovered after mass drowning in Mozambique

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POLOKWANE, January 20 – The body of a young woman who drowned, along with three friends in Mozambique on Monday, has been recovered, the Limpopo government said.

The woman’s body was recovered on Saturday and now the bodies of “all the people who disappeared in the Mozambican coastline a few days ago have all been discovered”, the Limpopo government said in a statement which was also posted on the social media pages of the international relations and cooperation department (Dirco).

“All four are confirmed dead. The Mozambican authorities can now confirm that the last body was recovered early this morning [Saturday], with the most [recent] retrieved late yesterday [Friday].”

The bodies of Lesego Matsepe, Mmatholo Mogafe, David Kaise, and Gregory Mfune would be repatriated to South Africa by Monday with the assistance of Dirco.

The deceased were part of a group of eight tourists that arrived in Mozambique on January 12 and were staying in Maputo as part of a birthday celebration.

On Monday, they took a trip to Inhaca Island and later to Portuguese Island for a swim, where the drownings occurred – allegedly due to strong tides.

Limpopo premier Stanley Mathabatha said the four survivors were on their way back to South Africa. “We are shattered and wish to thank the national government, the president of the republic, and the minister of international relations Lindiwe Sisulu for their swift action when they heard the news,” said Mathabatha.

Mathabatha’s office had since set up a special team to visit the affected families. The team consisted of social workers and psychologists. Two of the deceased were from Limpopo and the other two from the Free State.

The Limpopo government said it had dispatched Elias Motsoaledi municipality mayor Julia Mathebe to Mozambique to accompany the families back to South Africa.

During the course of the week, Mozambique authorities recovered the bodies from the ocean, despite having to stop at times due to rough seas.

Spokesman for the families Bongani Diako said in a statement on Friday the families were “disappointed” with the “inadequate support” they had received from Dirco.

“We were hoping that the rights of South Africans would remain guaranteed irrespective of where they are in the world. We were confronted by a situation where we had to coordinate and fund the daily search missions on our own,” said Diako.

“The absence of the South African high commissioner to Mozambique ambassador Mandisi Mphahlwa on this matter – to allow families the opportunity to engage him with their frustrations – is rather concerning and hurtful.

“Given that four South African lives have been lost tragically in a country that he has been deployed [to] as a diplomat, it would have been expected of him to at least attach personal attention to the matter and even meet the families in person,” said Diako.

He said they would like to thank Mathabatha for the support. “As part of the premier’s delegation, the mayor and the acting municipal manager took time to travel to Mozambique to support us in our time of need. The support and prayers of many of our fellow South Africans are also appreciated.” (ANA)