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The family of four young boys from Mamelodi are grieving after their children drowned while swimming in a man-made irrigation dam on a privately owned farm near the Baviaanspoort Correctional Facility.
The bodies of the four boys - Remember Mosoma, 12, Nthapeleng Laka, 11, and Mpho Mamabolo and Nkosinathi Masilela, both nine - were recovered by a team of eight police divers who searched the filthy sewage water on Sunday.
The team painstakingly combed the entire dam bit by bit on Sunday after the bodies had been recovered to ensure that there were no more bodies.
They found the bodies of the four drowned boys within 30 minutes - and within a 2m radius of each other.
The Pretoria News learnt that a fifth child who had been with the boys had run home when the others got into the water.
The boys are said to have left their homes in Mamelodi on Saturday morning to hunt for rabbits, and their parents got worried when the children did not return home in the evening.
Shawn Nesane, the father of Remember, said the boy had told him he was going hunting with his friends and their dogs.
Nesane allowed Remember to go, and he was surprised when the boy did not come home at the usual time.
“He usually comes home before his mother, but on that day he did not. We started panicking when it got late. We went to all his friends’ homes to check if he was there. But we were told that the boys were last seen walking to the place where they normally hunt,” said Nesane.
The family stopped their search in the evening and decided to continue the next day, but the morning brought with it the dreaded news.
The family heard that their third-born’s body had been found at the Baviaanspoort Waste Water Treatment Works in the Kameeldrift area.
Nesane said he did not understand why the boys decided to swim in the water as he knows his son could not swim.
He believes that the float that was in the water might have enticed them to jump on top of it.
“Why did they decide to get into the water, because they normally walk around in the bushes with their dogs?” the grief-stricken father asked.
Jackson Mamabolo said his son Nthapeleng left in the morning as though he was going to play with his cousin Mpho. Throughout the day the family thought the boys were playing somewhere.
“We thought he was at my sister’s house. We called in the evening to check where he was and she said they were not there. We asked other children from nearby and they said they had last seen them going to play,” he said.
As night fell, the frantic parents went to the Cullinan and Mamelodi police stations to report the matter.
With police assisting in the search, the family heard from a man who herds livestock that he saw clothes next to a dam in Kameeldrift with two dogs sitting next to them, barking.
One of the dogs that belonged to the boys barked continuously as the bodies were taken out of the water and put inside body bags. The dogs are said to have slept at the side of the dam next to the boys’ clothes.
“After hearing about the clothes, we went there. We recognised the ones Nthapeleng was wearing and it slowly became clear that the boys were in the water,” said Mamabolo.
He said the family had high expectations for their child, who was a bright pupil who also loved going to church.
“Even though we lost them, we are just glad that we were able to recover their bodies. It is God’s will and we accept it,” said Mamabolo.
With many people wondering how the children got to the dam, Mossie Mostert, the manager of the plant where the dam is, said they frequently found people in the prohibited area as the fences have been stolen. “This is a prohibited area. People are not allowed to be here. The place was well fenced but people constantly steal the fencing.”
Police spokeswoman Sergeant Portia Maleka urged parents to take extra care of their children to ensure that such a tragedy does not happen again. Maleka said an inquest docket had been opened.
Following the news of the drownings, the City of Tshwane warned water lovers to be extra careful as spring approaches.
Ward councillor Absalom Boroto said it was their duty to assist the families.
“This is a disaster. We will be sitting down with the families to see how we can assist,” he said.