Thabee Nyako, a woman who was trapped inside a sinking bus in Vanderbijlpark, has opened up about the horrors of the incident.
Nyako and her colleagues took their work bus home on 14 January as usual. Dark clouds gathered over Vanderbijlpark. Then it started to rain.
Water began to flow across the roads. The bus hit a pothole and came to a halt in the ever-rising water. Inside the van, Thabee and her colleagues watched helplessly as the water rose.
Nyako said on Facebook later that day that it felt like they were trapped in the rising water for an eternity. Many people just drove past them and even took photos and videos, without trying to help.
This was until Andries Potgieter Boulevard came to their rescue.
Boulevard saved the commuters, with the help of Shane Pretorius – who was driving past – Johan Strydom and Nico Radebe.
“The people in the bus called for help and shouted that they could not get out. The water was too deep,” he recalls.
Their first step was to block the road.
Strydom’s bakkie had a trailer attached to it and they unhooked it in an attempt to tow the bus.
Strydom and Radebe stood in the back of the former’s bakkie and controlled the axle. In the pouring rain, Pretorius went into the water with the cable in his hand to connect the bus.
“The water came up to my thighs. At first I wanted to run, but the current was too strong, then I just swam to the bus,” said Pretorius.
He connected the van to the winch shaft cable and the van was towed to safety.
“It’s my passion to help people,” he said.
Nyako thanked the men for saving her and her colleagues.
“… (he) got into the freezing water half naked, swam closer to the taxi to tie the tow belt on the bus and slowly, but surely, towed us to safety. Really wish more South Africans were like you. Sacrificed his time, petrol, risked his own life, to save working moms… ”
This article was translated from Afrikaans and republished from Vaal Weekblad with permission