The body of eight-year-old Justin Oliphant from Douglas has been retrieved from a canal, almost 48 hours after he drowned. Picture: Danie van der Lith/Diamond Fields Advertiser

Kimberley - The body of an eight-year-old boy from Douglas has been retrieved from a canal, almost 48 hours after he drowned.

Justin Oliphant, a Grade 2 pupil from Bongani Primary School in Douglas, went missing on Tuesday after he apparently fell into a canal close to his home in Bongani.

His body was only found on Thursday morning.

Justin’s distraught mother, Riana Kitchen, was on Thursday still reeling in shock following the discovery of her son’s body.

She said that she had last seen her son on Tuesday at around 1pm, when she sent him to buy some tomatoes for her.

“I later found the tomatoes in the house but Justin was nowhere to be found. A while later, another young boy came to me and said that Justin was lying in the canal. I ran to the canal but saw nothing. I then ran back home and asked the child what happened and where Justin was last seen, but he couldn’t say. I was completely frantic and everything was confusing.

“I managed to get hold of my husband, who went back to the canal with members of the police but they also saw nothing and could do nothing but wait for the police’s diving unit to arrive from Kimberley. However, it was already dark when they arrived and could only resume the search in daylight,” Kitchen said on Thursday .

She added that a massive search was launched by members of the community, who assisted the police by looking for the boy from the banks of the canal.

However, Justin’s body was only found on Thursday morning, several kilometres downstream from where he was last seen, with Kitchen being informed at around 11 am that her son was dead.

“I will never forget his smile and his beautiful laugh. He was a loving, calm child and to laugh was one of his favourite things to do,” Kitchen said.

According to one man, Benjamin Makabe, whose son was apparently with Justin when he fell into the canal, the boy was walking along the edge of the canal, with his feet in the water, when he slipped and fell in.

Other children, who had been playing with Justin, tried to pull him out but were unsuccessful, as they were simply too small and weak.

Both Kitchen and Makabe on Thursday called on authorities to intervene and implement safety measures at the canal, which they said had become a “death trap”.

“This canal is of no use to this community and has instead become a death trap for our children, who can’t seem to resist playing in and near the water, especially during the extreme heat that we are currently experiencing. We would like to see the canal covered or fenced off, before another innocent child loses his or her life, “ they said.

They added that a lack of facilities, such as parks and a public swimming pool, had left children in the area with little to do but play in the canal and risk their lives by doing so.

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