Children drown in St Mike’s lagoon

2016-01-07 06:00

TWO children drowned in St Michael’s lagoon on Saturday.

Police divers and search and rescue members from SAPS Port Shepstone were called to the lagoon­ at 9.45am for the first incident.

“It is alleged that a nine-year-old boy was playing with another young child.

“The relative, who was looking after the boys, went for a swim,” said police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Zandra Wiid.

When she looked again, the child was missing.

After the divers, under command of Warrant Officer Francois Pretorius, searched in the water, the body was retrieved.

Later that day, at 5.55pm, divers were called again to search for a seven-year-old boy who had disappeared under the water.

After a search was conducted, the body was retrieved by police divers.

In both cases inquests were opened at Margate police station and are under investigation. The bodies still have to be positively identified.

Leon Garbade, owner of Tower13­ Lifeguards advised that parents and care-givers should never leave children unsupervised.

“Lifeguards are not babysitters and the first question people ask when a child drowns is ‘where were the lifeguards?’ That is incorrect. They should be asking where the parents were,” he said.

Garbade said the nine-year-old boy drowned on Friday between 6pm and 9.30pm.

“The boy’s friends approached lifeguards at about 9.45pm and said they had last seen the boy at 6pm.”

SAPS divers searched on Friday night but could not find the body and returned on Saturday morning.

The seven-year-old boy’s grandfather told lifeguards his grandson had been missing for about an hour.

“Judging by the state of the boy’s body, the boy was under water for a few hours.”

Garbade said bathers should only swim at patrolled beaches.

“Lifeguards are stationed all along the coastline from Hibber- dene to Port Edward.

“Our hours of duty are from 7am to 5pm.”

He said children should not be left unattended or in the care of minors­.

“Swimming under the influence of alcohol is prohibited.

“Alcohol severely restricts your ability to swim, but has the effect of doubling courage and makes one believe they are the world’s best swimmers.”

If bathing at a certain beach is closed, it is indicated by crossed bathing marker poles, he said.

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