Another school tragedy

2013-04-02 00:00

A YOUNG rugby player taking part in the Maritzburg College 150th Winter Sports Festival drowned in the school’s swimming pool yesterday afternoon.

The 17-year-old boy from Dambuza in Edendale, a member of the KZN Invitational Rugby side that had just lost 43-0 to King William’s Town’s Dale College, was the second boy to die during the busy Easter school sports period in the province.

Last week, Durban High School pupil Madodandile Mavaleliso (14) died in hospital after falling ill following an under-15 rugby match against Hoërskool Transvalia at Glenwood High School’s Easter rugby festival.

Durban High School, which had been due to play in the festival at College, withdrew their team, and as fate would have it, the KZN Invitational side was put together at the last minute as their replacement.

The boy, whose name is known to The Witness, cannot be identified in print as his mother has not yet been informed of his death.

College’s head of marketing, Graham Bennetts, yesterday said the KZN Invitational team consisted of a number of College boys and development players from across the province.

Following the game on Saturday, the team had lunch at the school and then four players took to the pool for a quick swim. The boy, the team’s right winger, had apparently dived into the pool, and stayed under the water for a while.

A pupil from the Millfield School, a touring team from the UK taking part in hockey, had assisted him after it had become apparent that he was in trouble.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, the team’s coach Khaya Memela said he had asked his players not to swim following their match.

“What I know is that they went up for lunch. I had stayed behind to watch the other games. One of the boys then came to call me and told me to rush to the pool,” Memela said.

“When I got there, paramedics had been performing CPR on him,” he said.

“When the others realised that he was in trouble, a boy from a school from the UK [Millfield] went down and pulled him out,” Memela said.

He said the team, which had been due to play against Port Elizabeth’s Grey High School tomorrow, has since pulled out of the Festival.

“We’re struggling to deal with this … the boys are in shock,” he said.

He said the youngster was a well-liked player who was always the first to arrive for training.

“He’d just started playing rugby. He was still learning the game, but he was adapting very well. He was one of the most disciplined guys, very down to earth, very happy. He was always the first to training, and would never miss it.”

College’s new headmaster Chris Luman has sent his condolences to the family.

Luman said: “We will be assisting the family in every possible way through this very sad time and have also offered counselling to the young men who were witness to the tragedy.”

Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said they were shocked and saddened by the incident.

“We want to pass our condolences to the family, and all the schools that are participating in the event. It is a very unfortunate incident,” he said.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said an inquest docket had been opened.

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