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Two teens drown after sneaking out of a child and youth care centre for a swim at the beach with three others

Two teenage boys from Themba Club Child and Youth Care Centre drowned while swimming at Palm Beach in the South Coast. File Picture Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

Two teenage boys from Themba Club Child and Youth Care Centre drowned while swimming at Palm Beach in the South Coast. File Picture Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Apr 24, 2022

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza has questioned how five children from a child and youth care centre managed to sneak out, resulting in the drowning of two of them.

The department said five children had absconded from the Themba Club Child and Youth Care Centre and went swimming on Thursday, April 14.

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As a result, two teenagers, Thabo Nondaba, 17, and Lungelo Goba, 16, drowned.

Palm Beach is within walking distance of the centre.

“According to reports, Goba started swimming and within seconds he disappeared in the water. Nondaba followed in an attempt to rescue him but failed,” the department said.

“The three remaining boys ran back to the centre to report to the senior childcare worker, who went to the scene and immediately reported the matter to the police.

“The sea search team started looking for the boys underwater, but they couldn't be found.

“Nondaba's body was swept ashore by the current on April 15, while Goba's remains beached on April 16, at the very same spot where Nondaba's body was found,” the department continued.

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It said both the teenagers were identified by a senior child care worker.

Nondaba was an abandoned child and all his life he had been in alternate care, the department said.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala said the matter was reported to the police on April 14, 2022, where two teenagers had drowned and their bodies were recovered on April 15 and 16, 2022.

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“An inquest docket was opened,” Gwala said.

MEC Khoza deployed a team of officials to investigate the circumstances under which the teenagers absconded from a private child and youth care centre to swim at the beach, resulting in their drowning.

Khoza sent her heartfelt condolences to the centre. However, she expressed her concern that children were able to abscond from the centre, resulting in the death of two of them.

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“We are heartbroken as a result of this incident in which we lost two young lives. As a department, we will do a thorough investigation on what exactly happened and how the children were able to escape without being noticed by their minders,” Khoza said.

“Our understanding is that these children are supposed to leave the centre when going to school. All centres are supposed to be secured all the time as they house children.”

The department had a Service Level Agreement with the centre and it will be co-ordinating adequate support to be provided to the families, she said.

Khoza also urged child and youth care centres to ensure that they protect children at all times.

“The death of these children leaves so much pain to us,” Khoza said.

“We want to get a thorough report from the board of the child and youth care centre with regards to the safety of children in their facilities. We are not expecting children to abscond from the facilities.”

A team of social workers was dispatched to provide psycho-social support to the centre.

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