Pupils: ‘jovial bunch’ missed by family

2011-06-02 00:00

“THEY were a jovial bunch of young children who were full of life and we will miss them forever.”

So said the bereaved aunt of the three children who suffocated after locking themselves in a deep-freeze in Rorke’s Drift near Dundee on Monday.

Phumelele Mngoma said Siyamthanda Sthebe (4), Thuthukani Mdunge (7) and Aphiwe Qwabe (7) had probably locked themselves inside the freezer by accident while they were playing.

She said they were her sister’s and brother’s children.

“They made us happy all the time because they were cheerful and always ready to make us laugh,” ­Mngoma said.

She said the entire Mdunge family are devastated.

“Little Siyamthanda was very eager and excited to be in school because even though it is cold she always waked up early so that she could be ready to go to her grade one class,” she said.

Mngoma said their teachers cried when they learnt of the tragedy because Aphiwe and Thuthukani, in grade two and three respectively, were intelligent pupils.

Ironically, the deaths came as South Africa is observing Child Protection Week.

By coincidence Social Development MEC Dr Meshack Radebe was in the Nquthu area, near where the deaths occurred on Monday.

He was there with a local gospel group, Abanqobi.

When Radebe heard the news he visited the Mdunge family. He and department officials expressed their sympathy and prayed for the family.

Radebe said the department is committed to help the family with funeral arrangements and costs.

The department left food parcels with the family.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said police have not received further information about the children.

He said that police have opened an inquest docket.

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