Durban - A day of adventure for four young friends at a Richmond dam turned to tragedy at the weekend when two of them drowned after their rickety boat sprung a leak and capsized.
The 10-year-old survivors - Bongani Zondi and Mhlengi Funeka - said they watched in shock as their friends floundered in the murky water, a police source said.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed that Luyanda Mhlongo and Sizwe Mkhize, both 9, had drowned.
The four were playing in a small, abandoned boat after walking 5km to get to the dam, estimated to be about 30m deep.
They had sneaked on to Fenchway Farm to gain access to the dam.
The Lovu River tributary, which feeds into the dam, separates the Richmond Country Club and farms nearby. Luyanda and a friend had gone to the dam on Friday, and he had returned on Saturday with his three friends, despite the heavy rains, the source said.
They stripped naked and jumped into the boat. Luyanda and Sizwe were seated in front while Bongani and Mhlengi occupied the back. They used their hands and legs to steer the boat towards the centre of the dam, but when the vessel began taking on water the boys at the back jumped off and swam ashore.
The source said the shift in weight caused the boat to capsize and Luyanda and Sizwe fell into the water. Neither could swim and they drowned near the overturned boat. The boys told police they had tried to swim back to help them but they were in shock and could only watch as their friends went under. They ran to a nearby golf course and alerted golfers who called the police.
The police search and rescue unit found the bodies and brought them ashore. The boys had walked from their homes in Ndaleni to play in the boat abandoned by a farmer.
The tragedy happened just days before the two drowned boys could fetch their school reports. Both were Grade 4 pupils.
Sizwe’s father, Sipho Mkhize, said his son was playful and had wanted to become a Kwaito dancer.
“All the children play together. We are uncertain how these four boys slipped away without informing us,” he said. “My wife and I were concerned for their safety because of the weather.”
Mkhize said police had come to him with the bad news.
“I was shocked. He (Sizwe) meant the world to me.”
A post-mortem was to be conducted on Monday.