Cape Town - Less than two months after an eight-year-old girl drowned at Leisure Isle, three more children lost their lives while swimming in the Knysna lagoon on Thursday.
The three girls, aged nine, 10 and 11 from Ethembeni, Concordia and Khayalethu in Knysna, drowned at the Green Hole at Leisure Isle after falling into a “drop off”(deep gully) in the water.
Southern Cape police spokesman Captain Bernadine Steyn said the girls had been part of a group of six children, some of whom are believed to be visitors from out of town, who had gone to the lagoon with a family friend - a 25-year-old woman.
Municipal spokesman Ingrid Erlank said that at about 12.45pm three of the children had been walking in knee-deep water, when they suddenly stepped into a drop-off. “None of them could swim.
“By the time their minder realised that they had disappeared under the water it was too late.”
Steyn said the woman tried to help the children, but it was not long before she was also in trouble.
National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) members were first on the scene and with police divers and Knysna municipal law enforcement officers tried to rescue the children and the woman.
NSRI Knysna station commander Graeme Harding, who arrived on the scene within five minutes, said because the tide was out at the Green Hole, the youngsters had decided to find deeper water.
“The problem is that further along there is a very big drop-off in the water, and three of the children had fallen into this.
“They were about 300m off-shore of Leisure Isle, after being swept by rip currents,” Harding said.
“We performed CPR on the girls while they were rushed to various Knysna hospitals.”
Steyn said: “The three children were declared dead on arrival. The family friend is still in hospital but out of danger at this stage.
“We are still in the process of informing the families, so the names of the deceased cannot be confirmed.”
Erlank confirmed that two lifeguards had been on duty on Thursday, but had been further up the beach at the main bathing area.
Last month, eight-year-old Knysna schoolgirl Naledi Ncaza drowned while swimming with neighbours at Leisure Isle.
Naledi, a Grade 2 pupil at Stepping Stones School, was spotted by a bystander who had seen she was in trouble.
A man went out on his paddle-ski to rescue her, but despite efforts to resuscitate her on the shore, she died soon afterwards.
After lobbying by the Leisure Isle Ratepayers’ Association the municipality recently announced a safety plan to ensure the safety of visitors to the Green Hole and Bollard Bay area.
Garden Route Media