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‘Please find our boys’ bodies’

Durban - The families of two 12-year-old boys who disappeared while swimming in the uThukela River on Wednesday night sat anxiously on the sidelines, watching with a large number of residents, as a rescue team searched the river on Thursday.

Nhlanhlayakhe Ntuli and Senzo Gumede had been swimming with six others.

A search and rescue diver stands in the muddy uThukela River at eMdlebeni, near Stanger, while a colleague assists from the river banks and residents look on. Photo: MARILYN BERNARD. Credit: INLSA

KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesman Robert McKenzie said: “Three of them got into difficulty. One boy managed to save himself, but the other two are missing. The boy raised the alarm and the community members called the emergency services.”

Two divers searched a rough section of the river on Thursday.

Both families seemed resigned to dealing with the anguish of their sons not being found alive, saying they hoped “at least to find their bodies”.

They had been left “in great shock” when told the boys were missing.

“I hardly slept last night. I have been here since 6am,” said Nhlanhlayakhe’s grandfather, Mbongeni Gasela.

“I had no idea he was here… He was frightened of the river.

“I thought he was playing with friends. I’m a traditional healer, so I was busy with one of my clients.

“His mother works in Durban, and his grandmother had been visiting her when this happened.”

Gasela said he had “lost hope” of finding his grandson alive.

“At least if they can find his body…”

Nhlanhlayakhe’s mother, Silindile Vela, said she struggled to sleep.

Senzo’s father, Nkosinathi Gumede, said his wish was that the boys be found “as soon as possible”.

Wonderboy Khumalo, a community leader, said there had been other drownings in that section of river.

Police spokesman Thulani Zwane said the search would continue on Thursday, and that a helicopter would be sent to help.

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