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A family watched in horror as the bodies of two boys, who were believed to be brothers, were retrieved from the uMlaza River in Chatsworth yesterday.
The boys had disappeared while swimming in the river on Sunday afternoon.
The police’s search and rescue unit found the children’s bodies trapped under water hyacinth, an extremely invasive weed that clogs waterways in dense mats that can be up to 2m thick.
Paramedics said the boys were 13 and seven years old.
Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said the boys had been reported missing on Sunday night after they failed to return home from swimming.
Emergency officials, including the search and rescue unit as well as the police dog unit, were called out to help find them.
Eventually yesterday, in a dangerous operation, police divers went into the swirling, muddy river and, after an hour of searching, the bodies were found at a depth of 6m, below a thick mat of the weed.
They were brought to the surface and both were declared dead on the scene.
“It is believed that the boys got into difficulty when they were caught in a current which dragged them under the hyacinth,” said Botha.
“Neither of the boys were wearing clothes, which leads us to believe that they had gone swimming,” he said.
Botha said the family was traumatised and not in a state to speak about what had happened.
Botha and Welbedacht ward councillor Claudia Mnyandu said there had been previous cases of drowning in the uMlaza River.
The names of the boys have not been released.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said the Chatsworth police would investigate the cause of the drowning, but that no foul play was suspected at this stage.