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Vryburg, North West - A father and son died in Vryburg after inhaling toxic fumes while working on a sewerage system in the township of Huhudi, Vryburg, North West, police said on Monday.
“It is alleged that both victims on Friday, October 4, went inside the sewerage main hole which is next to the old dumping site to unblock the sewer,” Captain Pelonomi Makau said in a statement.
An inquest docket had been opened.
The Sowetan reported on Monday that Monnapula Mohumapelo, 24 was overcome by toxic gases and died on entering the manhole. Hearing his son's screams, his father Batlhaleheng, 56, followed, but slipped and fell while entering the manhole. Both worked for the Naledi local municipality in the North West.
A colleague reportedly told the newspaper that the municipality did not provide them with the necessary tools such as ladders and gas masks.
“We venture into a mixture of deadly waste, armed with only a cloth on our mouths,” he was quoted as saying.
The SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) in the North West said it was worried and angered by the deaths.
Secretary Lekoba Modimoeng said it appeared as though the municipality did not care much about its workers' working conditions or their health and safety.
“But rather, it seems to be concerned more about planning, and awarding people tenders. To make matters worse, three contract workers, doing work for the same municipality, fell into an open drain and were seriously injured,” he said.
Samwu called on Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant to ensure inspectors conducted regular checks on sites.
Modimoeng said Samwu would continue to advise its members to refuse to work in dangerous conditions without the proper tools.
“The union will, based on the report that has been compiled by the department of labour in Vryburg, advise the family of Mohumapelo what line of action to take with regards to this painful matter,” he said.
Attempts to get comment from the municipality were unsuccessful.