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Calls to close ‘quarry dam’ in uMhlathuze after deaths

The Nseleni quarry ‘dam’

The Nseleni quarry ‘dam’. File Picture

Published Feb 27, 2023


Durban - uMhlathuze Municipality has urged the public not to swim at a makeshift “dam” that has been created at an abandoned quarry mine in Nseleni, Empangeni, following the drowning of two people on Saturday night.

The two drownings at the weekend bring the total drownings at the dam to three.

Ndoda Manqele, 42, drowned while swimming at the dam in January.

City of uMhlathuze mayor Xolani Ngwezi confirmed the latest drowning incidents at the dam in a statement.

“A male in his early thirties nearly drowned on Saturday evening and was assisted by community members at the dam who rushed him to Nseleni Clinic. He died at the clinic.

“A 47-year-old male drowned on Saturday evening and our rescue services team retrieved the body on Sunday morning at about 9am.”

Ngwezi passed his condolences to the two bereaved families.

“We continue to warn community members against swimming at the infamous Nseleni quarry dam because it is not designated for swimming.

“I advise residents of Nseleni to make use of the Nseleni swimming pool, Aquadene and Brackenham swimming pools as well as Alkantstrand beach in Meerensee, which are official areas that are safeguarded and designated for swimming.”

Ngwezi added that the quarry water was not safe.

“Results of samples proved that even the water in that dam is not safe for swimming and may place those who go there at unnecessary risk.

“This matter is still being handled by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the owner of the dam, as resolved in a meeting which was held with DMRE, the traditional council and ward councillor at KwaKhoza Traditional Council. In essence it was agreed that the law must take its course.”

Sne Khanyile, a contractor and resident, said that the “Mayeni dam” as it has come to be known, is not a dam but a quarry.

“A quarry cannot be used as a swimming pool as this is not its core function. Quarries generally have colder water as a result of its source being deep underground groundwater. This sudden change in temperature to an individual can lead to hypothermia.”

Khanyile added that this is just one of many risks associated with swimming in quarry water.

“My condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones. The general public must be urged to refrain from using this area as a swimming pool, if this behaviour continues we will unfortunately lose more of our neighbours.”

Henning de Wet, DA chief whip and councillor in uMhlathuze, said that the party was deeply saddened to hear about the tragic news of the drownings.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the victims during this difficult time.

“Drowning is a devastating and preventable tragedy.

“It is critical that we take every precaution to ensure the safety of our residents.”

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy was contacted by The Mercury newspaper and said it would respond once all the details had been established.