File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Parents angered by probe finding into Nyanga boys’ sinkhole deaths

By Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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Cape Town – The community and families of the four boys killed when they fell into a hole under a bridge along the N2 highway earlier this month say they are disappointed by the outcome of an investigation into the deaths, and called for government to take responsibility.

A Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works investigation found that the theft of filling by criminals led to the deaths of Ivakele Kalikopu, 13, Nqabayethu Mlaza, 12, Axolile Mabangula, 11, and Azola Quweni, 13 when they fell into the hole under the bridge at the N2 Borcherds Quarry turn-off close to Nyanga on February 8.

“They were unaware that the area they were playing in had been undermined over the prior weekend by criminals stealing fill material from the embankment.

’’The tragic outcome was the sand collapsed and the children were buried beneath it,” Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela said in releasing the report yesterday.

“Criminals with no thought other than their own gain and no consideration for the safety of others put the lives of these children at risk. The result is this tragedy.”

Madikizela said records show that the site was inspected on the Friday before the incident, and no problems were identified.

“As a result, it is clear that the theft of the filling must have taken place after the inspection took place, and over the weekend,” he said.

In line with recommendations from the report, surveillance will be increased by introducing additional fixed surveillance cameras at key hot spots and for a uniform and standard reporting procedure to be developed for future use.

Nqabayethu’s mother, Asisipho Mlaza, said: “We have never seen people inspecting the area and it amazes me that on Friday before the incident the area was inspected. Children have been playing there for years.

“The only reason I can think of why people dig the sand there is because they want to build shacks or prevent flooding where they live.

“(Government) must just admit that they failed to inspect the area or they are running away from the fact that it was maybe not properly built and they start blaming the community.”

She said officials drove past the area almost daily and had seen people digging up sand.

“They never bothered to investigate or ask why people are digging, to be able to provide the people with what they need,” said Mlaza

Nyanga ward councillor Khaya Yozi said Madikizela omitted a number of important facts in the report.

“By March 2018, the relocation for Vukuzenzele and Borcherds Quarry informal settlements should have started and that did not happen. This incident could have been prevented had those communities been relocated to their new areas.

“The department knows very well that the area is classified as low lying, which means during a winter there is going to be a flooding and (residents) are supposed to be given material to compact their informal settlements.

’’That is why people are digging up sand, to do the same thing that was supposed to be done by the department.

“I don't know who Madikizela thinks is fooling here. That is a government property.”

Cape Times

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