Hannnetjie Ferreira shows a picture of Lerato Sekoena, 9, son of the Ferreira family chef, Doreen Sekoena. Photo: Geoff Brink


Durban - Eleven days ago a nine-year-old boy disappeared while swimming at Lucien Beach near Margate, turning a Free State family’s holiday into a nightmare as they watched their housekeeper’s son, Lerato Sekoena, vanish under a giant wave.

Owners of the Kiepersol Wedding Village in Parys,

Hannetjie Ferreira, 68, and her husband Johan, 72, had gone to the South Coast with their four children and their employee Doreen Sekoena, 28, along with her two sons, Lerato, and his seven-year-old brother Thato.

They were staying at the Fereiras’ two holiday properties, called Ongeluk, at Manaba Beach on Liliecrona Road. They had arrived on a Friday and five days later, on Wednesday, July 2, tragedy struck.


“There were six children swimming when a big wave swept through while we were looking after them. At that juncture we realised there were only five left and Lerato was nowhere to be seen. We called the lifeguards and a frantic search began, a police search unit arrived and everyone started looking,” Fereira said.

Lerato’s mother was at the house preparing lunch and fainted when police and the Fereira’s daughter went to break the news to her.

Ferreira said she had known Doreen Sekoena, who developed a lung-related illness this year, for about 14 years. “After she fell ill, the family decided to take her along for the holidays just to ease her mind from the illness.”

Ferreira said she was grateful for the support the family had received and for the professionalism showed by lifeguards and police who’d been out on boats and searching the beach with sniffer dogs.

Lerato’s grandmother, Paulina Sekoena, 53,

said: “We are battling to cope with this bad omen which has befallen the family.

“My daughter needs counselling to deal with the pain. It is baffling that her son disappeared and has never been found. I feel lonely without him. I looked after them and he was a good boy with lots of respect. I know the Ferreiras did their best but it was beyond their control. They are a good family,” Sekoena said.


Police spokesman Thulani Zwane confirmed that the search would continue.

Sunday Tribune