Search for drowned teen continues

2016-03-10 06:00

AT the time of going to press, SAPS divers were still searching for the body of a teenage boy, Siyanda Buthelezi, who drowned at Margate beach on Saturday.

His schoolmates said Siyanda drowned while trying to save other pupils, who were drowning.

Two female teenagers, Nomvula Zondi and Zanele Vidima, were pulled out of the water, but were pronounced dead at the scene.

The three were part of a school group from Swayimane near Pietermaritzburg with the principal and teachers from Sibongumusa High.

They were swimming with six other­ children after lifeguards had gone off duty for the day when they got into difficulty - reportedly after 6pm.

The SAPS, the search and rescue team, KZN government health EMS, Medivac ambulance services and the Hibiscus Coast Disaster Management responded.

Two off-duty Durban lifeguards had managed to get two of the girls out of the water, however, efforts to resuscitate the victims were in vain.

Bystanders Adriaan and Annamarie Muller, from Witbank, on holiday in Margate, were driving in the vicinity­ when they noticed a group of children in deep water being swept out to sea towards rocks.

They ran to assist and Adriaan, assisted by other bystanders, were able to pull six children out of the water onto the rocks.

“A 17-year-old male was witnessed floating face down in the water, but despite extensive search efforts the teenager has not been found and he remains missing at sea and is presumed to have drowned,” said NSRI’s Craig Lambinon.

The bodies of the two females were taken into the care of the forensic pathology services.

“Adriaan and Annamarie Muller, and the two unidentified gentlemen, who assisted in rescuing the two girls, and other bystanders. who are believed to have assisted, are all commended for their efforts.

“Sincerest condolences are expressed to the families of the deceased following this tragic incident,” said Lambinon.

He said the NSRI asks the public to swim at beaches only when and where lifeguards are on duty and school groups visiting the coast are urged to take pupils to beaches only when and where the beaches are supervised by on-duty lifeguards.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education, Peggy Nkonyeni, sent her “heartfelt condolences” to the families of pupils.

“We have learnt with shock the news of the passing of these pupils. We are very saddened. It is very disturbing to learn about the passing of young people from whom we still expect a lot,” Nkonyeni said.

She said the department will also do its own investigation into what led to the incident.

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