Five days after a Steenberg man vanished beneath the waters of the Keysers River, his body was recovered after a gruelling search.
Reagan Frederick, 30, was last seen at about 10am on Wednesday June 14 at the river next to the Steenberg railway station when he was allegedly beaten and thrown into the water after he was accused of stealing – according to a source close to the family. Another man who was with him managed to escape but Reagan went underwater.
Although the circumstances of his disappearances are still under investigation, family and friends breathed a sigh of relief when his body was discovered close to where he was last seen on Father’s Day.
Retreat residents were at the scene every day to conduct searches and closed down Military Road in attempts to get more assistance from law enforcement agencies and for professional divers to be sent into the river to extract his body.
Natalie Fredericks, Reagan’s mother, who was at the scene every day along with several friends and family, said law enforcement agencies were on the scene but said no divers were sent into the water to search for his body.
“They sent drones up but no one was sent in to look for him because they said it’s too risky for them. We were also told that they were going to wait for his body to float to the surface and that’s what was frustrating,” she said.
JP Smith, the City’s Mayoral committee member for safety and security, said due to the heavy rains, the river had developed into a fast flowing body of water. “Extensive searches were immediately undertaken (on Wednesday) but due to adverse weather conditions and the strong current, the underwater search along with the airborne drone search, had to be called off and operations had to be confined to searching along the river banks by members on foot.”
He said teams were deployed on Thursday afternoon again but a protest crowd that had gathered on Military Road and began burning debris and obstructing the road prevented the drone team from coming to the site.
Police and other emergency services said they were unable to search the river due to weather conditions and a rise in water levels following the rainy weather last week – which made it dangerous for rescue staff.
The National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Graig Lambinon said their Strandfontein branch assisted police, Law Enforcement and the Fire and Rescue Services to conduct an extensive search leading along the Keysers River towards Zandvlei and the surrounding wetland with foot patrols, canoes, drone aerial search efforts and rescue craft.
The surrounding community and neighbourhood watch group also did extensive searches with rescue craft to search parts of Zandvlei leading towards the Zandvlei estuary mouth in Muizenberg.
After the third day volunteer divers from the community braved the weather and dangerous conditions and conducted their own searches with ropes tied around their bodies and his body was recovered on Sunday evening.
Kirstenbosch police Sergeant Masixole Mgxotwa said the investigation is still ongoing and requested anyone with information or anyone who witnessed what happened on Wednesday to come forward to make a statement.
“No arrests were made and we have taken some statements but we need more witnesses to come forward. We encourage anyone with information to contact us.”
Sergeant Mgxotwa can be contacted on 061 552 5558.
Ms Fredericks said Reagan wasn’t employed at the time and had struggled with drugs but was trying to change his ways because he had a six-month old son.