Grim find for Mamelodi residents

2014-03-16 14:00

Just before 2pm yesterday, Wanny Choma raised his hands and shouted: “Here, here, the other boy is here.”

Choma (32), a taxi driver, leaned on a tall stick for support.

He was cold and trembling, and his clothes were drenched with mud.

He had found the body of the second of three boys – Bonolo Malemela (9), Gomolemo Mangena (10) and Neo Setlhabane (10) – from Mamelodi East who went missing on Monday after being swept away by strong currents in the Moretele River.

Residents and relatives have spent up to 16 hours every day from Monday searching for the boys, who were last seen playing near concrete storm water drains that feed into the river in Mamelodi’s Section 14.

Yesterday morning the first body, that of Gomolemo, was found trapped in tall grass in the river by resident Trevor Bali at about 9am.

“It’s been a difficult week. Every time we left in the evening I felt we had failed but I had hope since I knew I would be back here the next morning to continue the search,” said Bali, who lives near the area where the boys disappeared.

Gomolemo’s mother, Suzanne, was inconsolable as her son’s body was removed by a mortuary van. Bonolo’s uncle Godfrey Malamela was one of the men who has spent days searching for his nephew. Malamela said the disappearance of his nephew had been hard on the family.

Dressed in rags and holding a garden hoe, Malamela said his only wish was to find his nephew’s body and give him a decent burial.

“I was crying the whole week. I am a gardener and I am prepared not to go to work until all three boys have been found. My sister [Bonolo’s mother] is taking this very hard and finding her son means everything,” he said.

The second body had not been identified at the time of going to press.

“I could not sleep. I felt I had to do something because I am also a father of a young girl. I needed to help. I am not happy that we found him, it’s a heavy feeling that I can’t celebrate,” said Choma.

He, Bali and Malamela were among ordinary residents who pitched in to help the police K9 unit and paramedics.

The men, who searched nearly 3km of the river throughout the week, tied ropes around their waists and worked in pairs to stop being washed away.

They used rakes, brooms and sticks to go through every inch of the river bed. Mamelodi police spokesperson Johannes Maheso said the impact residents had on the search was massive.

“We are not searching alone. The ordinary people joined in and we thank them for their contribution,”he said.

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