Tragedy strikes in Hammanskraal as 3 young boys drown in waterlogged trench after downpours
Pretoria - Three families in Tambo Extension 1, Hammanskraal, are mourning the deaths of their young sons, whose bodies were found in an open stormwater trench on Saturday.
Heartbroken relatives of the boys blamed the City of Tshwane and the contractors for leaving the trench unattended since March when the country went into lockdown.
Kutlwano Mkhwanazi, 9, Tshepo Machete, 10, and Samuel Maphoso, 10, drowned while swimming in the trench.
According to the bereaved families, the children were with two other boys, who survived.
The trench was flooded with water after the downpours over the weekend.
Kutlwano’s mother Freda Mkhwanazi is overwhelmed with grief. During a visit to her home by the Pretoria News yesterday she said: “I am deeply hurt.”
Mkhwanazi pleaded with the City to cover the trench “so that more innocent lives can be spared”.
As far as she knew, she said, the trench was sometimes cleared out and the water drained. However, this work was stopped in March when the country went into a hard Covid-19 lockdown.
Tshepo’s sister Maki said her brother had been looking forward to one of his siblings’ birthdays yesterday.
She said Tshepo was reluctant to go out to play with other children on Saturday because he was waiting for the arrival of his sibling, who lived near their home.
Maki said municipal officials visited them and had promised to return to assist with funeral arrangements.
Johanna Maphoso, the mother of Samuel, spoke fondly of her son, who she said was playful.
“He was a clever boy, very chatty and naughty at the same time,” Maphoso said.
She said the death of Samuel had come as a shock to her.
“We are deeply hurt and the whole community is also mourning with us,” Maphoso said.
She blamed the contractors employed by the municipality for failing to enclose the trench after they had worked on it.
“I broke down when I was told that he was among the children who drowned in the trench,” Maphoso said.
Tshwane Emergency Services spokesperson Charles Mabaso said the department’s personnel responded to the incident just after 5pm on Saturday.
“Upon arrival at the scene, they discovered the three children who were declared dead by paramedics.
“The bodies had apparently been recovered by bystanders from the stormwater trench, which had accumulated water due to the heavy rain on Friday and Saturday,” Mabaso said.
He said the SAPS was conducting an investigation into how the tragedy had happened.
City Mayor Randall Williams expressed condolences to the bereaved families, saying he had deployed Roads and Transport MMC Dikeledi Selowa to the site to engage with emergency personnel, police and community members.
“While the investigation into the matter is ongoing, engagements with the local community indicate that the storm on Friday blew some barricades into the site which the young boys were then using to swim and play with in the trench,” Williams said.
Yesterday morning he summoned the site engineer, safety officers and the contractor and tasked the Tshwane Metro Police Department to patrol and secure the site.
Williams said: “The deaths of these young boys is a tragedy beyond measure.
“It is a devastating loss to the families, community of Hammanskraal and the whole of Tshwane.”
He urged all city residents to take a moment yesterday to pray for the bereaved families and the departed souls of the young boys.
“Tshwane mourns for them. May their souls rest in peace,” Williams said.