Boy drowns on school tour

2008-09-11 00:00

AN 11-year-old schoolboy drowned in the Mkhomazi River during a tour with his Pinetown school to a camp near Richmond on Wednesday afternoon.

The deceased, who was in grade six at Lyndhurst Primary School, was among a group of about 50 pupils who had gone with their teachers to the Highover Wildlife Sanctuary, which is along the Mkhomazi River. The boys were taken to the river to swim in pools there.

A sanctuary camp facilitator said he asked those who could not swim to play on the rocks instead.

Inspector Jack Haskins of the K9 Search and Rescue unit said he received an emergency call at about 6 pm on Wednesday. His team recovered the boy’s body at about 8 pm after a long search.

Haskins said that when the boy started to drown, one of his school fellows jumped into the river to rescue him. “The second boy also battled in the water, but was later rescued,” he said.

The anonymous caller who informed The Witness about the accident blamed the sanctuary for allowing young children to go to the big river. But the sanctuary said it cannot accept blame because it had asked the pupils who could not swim to stay away from the water.

An official said swimming in the pools is one of the camp’s programmes.

“The drowning happened in my presence, I was in charge of the group. About three minutes after they started to swim, others called me to save another [boy] who was battling. I jumped into the water to save the boy,” said the official.

The official said that a few minutes later, the pupils informed him that one of the boys was missing, and a head count was conducted.

“We searched underwater, but we could not find the boy, which is when we called the rescue unit,” said the official.

The parents of the drowned boy could not be reached for comment.

bhans@witness.co.za

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