Addo canal claims more lives

Five-year-old boys drown, bringing the number of deaths this year to seven

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Photo of two people taking water from a canal
Tandiswa Peta and Zoliswa Cima draw water from Kirkwood irrigation canal. Photo by Mkhuseli Sizani

The notorious Addo irrigation canal has claimed another two lives, bringing to seven the number of people who have drowned in the canal this year in Addo and Kirkwood.

The latest victims were two boys who were buried on 1 September in Aqua Park township.

Sergeant Majola Nkohli told GroundUp that on 21 August police divers were called out to the canal where two children had drowned. He said police recovered the body of five-year-old Valentino Swaartbooi a few minutes after arriving at the scene. The second boy, five-year-old Nolen Kroutze, was found on 25 August. “Police opened an inquest for further investigation,” Nkohli said. “For this year, Kirkwood had four reported cases, while Addo had three. In total, seven cases of drowning were opened for this year in that region.”

He said some people believed to have been drinking had drowned trying to swim across the canal. “Police are urging people to stay away from the irrigation canal.”

The open canal is used by, mostly citrus, farmers and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Sundays River Valley Municipality.

David Khonzani, a community leader for the Rural Development and Sports Trust, said the two boys had apparently drowned while trying to get their ball out of the canal. He said the fencing around the canal had been stolen and that stronger fences were needed.

“We want all the areas where people live to be fenced,” he said.

Thandiswa Peta from Zone 4 in Moses Mabhida township said residents had to fetch water from the canal when they ran out. “We have no choice,” she explained. “Kids drown here when they swim. The water we drink is very dirty and we have to boil it before we can use it,” she said.

Municipal spokesperson Zusiphe Mtirara said: “Moses Mabhida was without water recently due to maintenance. Communication was sent out to residents to urge them to prepare for this period. The canals do not belong to the municipality but to the Department of Water and Sanitation. We have however been working tirelessly to educate residents about the dangers of the canals. The canals were enclosed but we have a problem of community members who continue to endanger communities by stealing the fencing,” she said.

Simphiwe Ngilana from the Department of Water and Sanitation asked for questions to be emailed to him but had not responded by the time of publication.

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TOPICS:  Farming Government

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