Girl (5) rescued from sceptic tank dies waiting for ambulance

2012-04-25 00:00

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD girl who was rescued yesterday after falling into a septic tank died while waiting for an ambulance in the presence of municipal executives.

Sibahle Ndlovu was still alive when she was loaded into a municipal vehicle that happened to be at the scene, at Hopewell, to go to Northdale Hospital.

However, when an ambulance dispatched to fetch her met the vehicle on the way — two hours after being called — paramedics pronounced the child dead.

Sibahle fell about two metres into the tank during break at the Isibani crèche and pre-school while staff were busy preparing food for the children.

“Sibahle had been jumping on the wooden lid that had been covering the tank,” said Ziphezinhle Mchunu, the daughter of the head of the crèche.

“It had become soft following recent rains,” she said.

The lid gave way and Sibahle fell in.

Million Shawe, who was working nearby, responded to calls for help.

“I was busy working fixing some shoes when I heard a woman come into the shop screaming for help,” said Shawe.

He found a ladder nearby, and went into the septic tank to try and rescue Sibahle.

“While I was in the tank, I felt a child’s arm. I then grabbed it and pulled her out.

“She was silent, but we could see that she was still spitting out some water,” he said.

At that stage, Sibahle was still alive, said Mchunu, who was angry that her second call for an ambulance was met with a rude response.

“They were very rude when I called them for a second time,” she said.

“We told them that the fire department had said to us that the child was still alive, and they suggested I take her to the hospital myself.”

The municipal vehicle was at the scene because uMgungundlovu District Deputy Mayor Fucwana Zungu happened to be meeting district councillor and mayoral executive committee member Angel Mchunu, who also runs the creche.

Also at the meeting were Richmond Mayor Andrew Ragavaloo and council speaker Thulani Shabalala.

Zungu suggested the vehicle take Sibahle to Northdale Hospital, said Ziphezinhle Mchunu.

Police and the fire brigade arrived once the child was out.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said police were investigating.

When asked about the late response of the ambulance, Health Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said he was unable to comment.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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