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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

Vegetation clearer’s body recovered after Cape storms

A tragic accident during storm evasion leaves a female alien vegetation clearer, 22, deceased.

A female alien vegetation clearing professional was found dead in the mountains surrounding the Wemmershoek Dam in the Western Cape after she fell while trying to avoid the worst of the Cape storms on Sunday evening.

Stormy weather lashed the Western Cape from Sunday, leading to road and school precautionary closures in parts of the province.

The Cape Winelands, Overberg, and West Coast districts have been the hardest hit by strong winds and heavy downpours.

Clearer fell

On Sunday evening, members and volunteers from the Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) responded to an alert in the Wemmershoek area after a team of alien vegetation clearing professionals reported that one of their members had fallen.

According to WSAR, the clearers were leaving from their remote camp in the mountains surrounding the Wemmershoek Dam, between Paarl and Franschhoek, to avoid the worst of the storm when the member fell.

The rescuers hiked to assist the clearer; however, the 22-year-old female was found deceased.

ALSO READ: Debris, power cuts and over 100 schools closed: Western Cape counts the cost of horror storms

“Due to the treacherous conditions, a decision was made to return and recover her body at first light on Monday morning,” WSAR said.

Recovery mission

Setting out early on Monday evening, a large multi-disciplinary team, including members of the Western Cape Department of Health & Wellness EMS, Saps WPDS, and WSAR members, assisted Saps in recovering the deceased.

According to WSAR, rescuers spent a little over 12 hours during the operation, covering a total distance of nearly 12km, including several river crossings and nearly 900m in elevation. They also had to use ropes to safely navigate steep and wet sections of the trail on several occasions.

“Her body was placed into a rescue stretcher, carried back to the staging point, and handed over to local Saps and forensic services members on scene,” the rescuers said.

The operation concluded shortly after 8pm on Monday evening.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to the friends and family of the deceased at this sad time,” WSAR said.

ALSO READ: ‘Cape of storms’: Schools in Western Cape closed, authorities on high alert [WATCH]

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