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Durban - THE four children who witnessed their friend disappear under the water while they were swimming in a river in uMlazi received counselling yesterday.

Eleven-year-old Yikhokonke Masuku’s lifeless body was pulled out of the uMlazi River on Sunday by the ward 9 area councillor after he drowned on Saturday.

Department of Social Development spokesperson Mhlaba Memela said social workers went to uMlazi where they provided psychosocial support to the boy’s family. “The children who survived and witnessed their friend drowning were also provided with psychosocial support. It is not an easy thing for them to forget after seeing their peer drown.

“Our social workers will work with the parents to prepare these children mentally to accept what has happened,” said Memela.

He also called on parents to ensure that their children were supervised at all times when playing.

“We also encourage parents to ensure children don’t swim in streams or rivers. Children should swim in pools, supervised.”

Councillor Sthenjwa Nyawose, who was with the social workers yesterday, said there needed to be more awareness campaigns in the area.

“Communities are concerned about children drowning in the river,” said Nyawose.

Yikhokonke and four friends had left home saying they were going swimming at the river.

On Sunday as family and community members gathered at the river banks waiting for search and rescue, Nyawose, after a long wait, jumped into the river himself where he recovered Yikhokonke’s body.

Nyawose said that the surrounding communities had told him that since 1998, seven children had drowned in the river.

“Early last year, a 9-year-old girl who had been swimming with her friends drowned. Her body was never found. In December, a 10-year-old boy drowned and his body was recovered the day after,” said Nyawose.

KZN police said an inquest docket had been opened.

Daily News