Boy, 15, dies in bizarre Roodepoort dam drowning
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Johannesburg – A 15-year-old Soweto high school boy has died after drowning in a dam in Fleurhof, Roodepoort, under bizarre circumstances.
Nhlanhla Ndlela's lifeless body was found yesterday morning, following almost 12-hour search by members of the Joburg Emergency Management Services and the SA Police Service.
This tragedy is the second in two weeks in Johannesburg. Last week, the City was shocked by the death of Khomanani Mawa, 6, who passed away after falling inside a manhole at Orange Farm, south of Joburg.
The Star understands that the area and the dam are often used by sangomas and African spiritual churches for cleansing purposes, giving rise to speculations that the boy could have stumbled on bad luck.
Ndlela’s distraught father, Siphiwe Zondo, said Nhlanhla was his only son and although it was hard to lose him, he was relieved that his body had been found.
“I’m trying to remain strong but my heart aches. It’s been a two-day search. I was hopeful that we would find him alive the first day, but I knew the second day we would not be so lucky,” said Zondo.
The boy’s guardian, Themba Mathunjwa, who is also his aunt, took care of him after his mother’s death in 2016. She said Ndlela left home with six of his friends to go bird hunting.
“I knew something was wrong when Nhlanhla’s friends returned to my house without him - the scared and sad expressions on their faces said it all. They arrived at 5pm and told me they were swimming in the Blue Dam and could not find Nhlanhla when they got out.
“I battled to understand the boys and asked one of the neighbours to hear what they were saying,” Mathunjwa said, adding that Nhlanhla could swim.
Emergency services and the police first conducted the search on Monday evening, and resumed the search again yesterday morning.
Shortly before 10am divers from the search and rescue teams pulled the boy’s body from the water as family members stood by.
Police spokesperson Colonel Lefa Tsotetsi said an inquest docket had been opened with the Florida police and the boy’s death was under investigation.
“This area and this dam is a hot-spot area for crime and African spiritual rituals. Many people perform baptisms in this water, while walkers are robbed and murdered,” he said.
Ndlela was a Grade 9 pupil at the Thutolore Secondary School in Meadowlands Zone 1.
His aunt said he enjoyed attending school and she would miss him very much because he was very helpful around the house.
“Nhlanhla’s death comes at a bad time financially. We are barely meeting our daily needs and now we have to scratch deep in our pockets for a burial,” said Mathunjwa.
She added that someone needed to take responsibility for her nephew’s death and that the government should create recreational facilities for the youth.