Private security companies supported rescue efforts during South Africa’s Durban flooding

Private security companies have been instrumental in saving residents stranded by South Africa’s Durban flooding.

The flooding on the east coast of the country had been caused by heavy rains, and left the city submerged in garbage, sand and raging waters. However, private security officers from Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa), Marshall Security and KZN VIP all worked together to conduct and support rescue missions.

Speaking to IOL in an interview, officials from Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa), Marshall Security and KZN VIP all confirmed that their employees worked extremely long shifts, conducting rescues as state emergency services were stretched.

Rusa officers were seen in waist-deep water using a make-shift rope rescue system to help residents trapped inside their flooded home in Canelands, north of Durban, near the Umdloti river.

Rusa’s Prem Balram said that their officers do not have relevant training in terms of water and rope rescue as they are a private security firm: “It was just at that moment, we were trying to save people when nobody else could go in those (flooded) areas. We have paramedics at our company but the rest of us, we were just helping out. We were not trained for that.

“People were sitting on their roofs, there were babies trapped in houses so we just had to do what we could.”

Marshall Security’s Tyron Powell said that his team worked long hours to help rescue people, divert traffic and tend to whatever other calls they received as the flooding caused mass damage.

A Marshall Security official who was on the ground during operations, Andreas Mathias, said that officers had to make quick decisions on the ground as the situation worsened. He explained: “The volume of work was overwhelming, there was no way that any facility could cope with that amount. It’s not only the security companies that helped, it was neighbourhood watches as well, they were instrumental in the whole thing.”

Gareth Naidoo from KZN VIP, also based in Durban, said that the situation was “out of control” and his team “tried everything they could to help” in rescue missions. He said: “We were in Phoenix, we assisted in parts of KwaMashu, parts of Inanda and also near the old airport area (Durban south). We had our response teams who worked normal 12 hour shifts but they ended up doing 15 hour shifts. But in areas where teams were conducting rescues, it was up to 18 hours.”

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