Community sets water, sanitation pipes alight after boy drowns in ditch
Kimberley - A seven-year-old boy drowned on Sunday afternoon in a ditch that was dug months ago for the installation of water and sanitation pipes in Snake Park.
While the exact details regarding his death are still sketchy, community members are up in arms, claiming that the contractor that was appointed to do the work had not followed the necessary safety procedures.
Some of the pipes that were to be installed were set alight in protest of what happened, with the community members stating that the contractor and Sol Plaatje Municipality are responsible for the loss of life.
The young boy’s mother was transported to hospital for medical treatment after hearing the news of her son’s death.
Community members believe that the boy, Ofentse Ramocie, drowned after slipping and falling into the ditch.
“A man previously drowned in one of these ditches and we can expect more deaths if nothing is done. Ofentse isn’t the first and he won’t be the last person to lose his life.”
Anthony Meyers, who was busy building a shack in the area, said that he jumped into the water-filled ditch to retrieve the boy’s body after a group of children had called for help.
The three community members who jumped into the water-filled ditch to retrieve the boy’s body are Anthony Meyers, Douglas Nyapfumbi and Gert Visser. Picture: Danie Van der Lith/African News Agency (ANA)
“The ditch is very deep and took me up to my chin. I jumped into the water without thinking twice because it could have been one of my own children. Douglas Nyapfumbi also assisted me in bringing the body to the surface,” Meyers.
Another community member, Snakes Chake, said that the ditches were deeper than three metres.
“There are no safety nets or cordoned off areas to warn the community of any danger. Visibility is limited at night as there are no lights,” Chake warned.
“There has been hardly any progress on the installation of water and sanitation pipes, other than deep holes that were dug in front of our homes. Not a single tap has been installed yet. The ditches that were dug all over Snake Park have been left open for over three months. There are no sign boards that were erected to inform us who the contractor is, while our concerns are constantly ignored.”
Ward councillor and second acting Speaker at Sol Plaatje Municipality, Boitumelo Stout, who visited the bereaved family on Sunday, said that the 12-month project was part of a R2.2 million installation of water and sewerage infrastructure.
“According to the contractor, the water that is accumulating in Snake Park can only be drained if a church that is situated along the pipeline is demolished. The church is refusing to relocate. We cannot leave things unattended.”
Police spokesperson, Captain Bashoabile Kale, said that the police have opened an inquest into the death of the boy.