Early Tuesday morning the fourth body of a child was discovered in a hole near the intersection between Borcherds Quarry Road and the N2 highway in Nyanga.
“Four male children, aged 8-13 years old, were playing and dug a hole in the sand, on the side of the bridge close to the top section. The walls of the hole collapsed on top of them and trapped them. Unfortunately, the children are deceased due to suffocation,” Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokesperson, Deanna Bessick, says.
According to police a fifth boy, aged 5, was also playing with the children but managed to survive and reported the events to community members.
A spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Services, Jermaine Carelse, says that they received an emergency call at approximately 15:10 on Monday, 8 January. Fire crews from the Gugulethu and Mitchell’s Plain stations were deployed to the scene. Rescue teams from the Roeland Street and Metro EMS were also deployed.
Carelse reports that after 18:00 the bodies of two of the boys were retrieved, while the K9 unit assisted and the body of a third boy was located at 21:01.
Bessick says that the body of the fourth boy was much deeper and rescue teams had difficulties due to the instability of the sand, so they had to frequently stop and stabilise as they dug further. The fourth body was found at approximately 02:20 on Tuesday morning.
The children were identified as Axolile Mabangula, Nqabayethu Mlaza, Azola Quweni and Iva Kalikopu. The children were all from the Europe informal settlement in Gugulethu.
Extending his condolences the Executive Mayor Dan Plato says, “What started as a moment of happiness through children playing outside, quickly became a tragedy after the sandbank collapsed. The fourth victim was recovered by rescue personnel in the early hours of this morning and I wish to extend my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of all four victims. The past year has shown us how fragile life is and this incident reminds us of the uncertainty of life. Our thoughts are with their families during this time of grief.”
Police’s Captain FC Van Wyk says that Gugulethu police are investigating inquest cases now that the bodies have been recovered. Counselling has also been provided for the affected families.