Durban - A rural KwaZulu-Natal community is devastated by the death of four children, including three siblings, in a body of water which is their saving grace during times of drought.
Twins Ayathaba and Ayabonga Mthembu, 10, their younger brother Qiniso Mchunu, 5, and 13-year-old friend Asanda Dube, drowned while swimming in the quarry known as Msweli dam in kwaMbonambi, outside Richards Bay on Monday.
The mother of the twins and Qiniso, Sizakela Mahaye, on Tuesday told The Mercury it was difficult to accept that it was her children's time to go, because their deaths could have been avoided if the quarry was fenced off, or a warning sign put up.
She had left the children in the care of her 14-year-old son, Siyethemba, and the family from whom she rents a room.
“My children are always together, I thought they had all died because we couldn't find Siye,” said Mahaye.
Although her colleagues had shielded her from the sight of her children being pulled out of the water, she was so distraught she had to be taken to the clinic.
This was not the first drowning in the dam.
But, said councillor Thama Khumalo, who was also Asanda’s teacher, the community’s outrage after a drowning did not last long enough for there to be action taken to close the quarry.
“During the drought last year, especially, this is the only place that did not dry up. People could still get water from here and bring their cows to drink, that’s how they survived,” said Khumalo.
uMfolozi Local Municipality Mayor Smangaliso Mgenge sent a team to visit the families and see where they needed assistance.
He said the incident was painful. “It is difficult to imagine what those mothers are going through, especially the one who lost three children whose future she was living and working for. It is a terrible time,” he said.