'I am finished' - last words of man who drowned in sewage at Kimberley plant

2017-05-18 09:27
Trevor Naidoo (Charné Kemp/Netwerk24)

Trevor Naidoo (Charné Kemp/Netwerk24)

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Kimberley – The tears streamed down Trevor Naidoo’s cheeks as the former controller at the Homevale sewage plant in Kimberley testified about the tragic events in which five of his colleagues died.

Naidoo was testifying in the judicial inquiry into the November 6, 2012 incident, Netwerk24 reported.

Joey Ried, Pule Bosman, Clement Mokae, Raymond Newman and Neville Kock died after succumbing to methane gas fumes in the pump station and drowning in the sludge at the Sol Plaatje Municipality’s sewage plant.

"Pappa, you must go up, I’m finished," Newman had said before he slipped from Naidoo’s hands and was engulfed by the sludge.

Newman and Ried’s relatives cried in the court gallery as Naidoo testified.

Naidoo said that within an hour after he reported for duty, he had smelt something strange.

The sewage sludge in a reservoir hadn’t been pumped away.

Garret Corns, his manager, had observed as Naidoo thoroughly tightened the valves in the pump room.

'It's uncle Joey!'

In the meantime, three water affairs department officials had arrived to inspect the sewage plant.

Naidoo asked another worker to look for Ried, who was meant to have been on lunch. All they found at the pump station were Ried’s cellphone and handkerchief.

At that stage, the sludge was about a metre deep. Floating on the sludge, were a broom and an overall. Naidoo nudged the overall with a pipe, only to discover Reid’s body. Angela Sei screamed: "It’s uncle Joey, it’s uncle Joey."

Outside the pump station, Naidoo had tried to prevent more workers from entering. He made them wait outside. As he was walking to the office to call emergency services, his son told him that more people had fallen in. When he got back, he could see Mokae’s hands moving in the sludge.

Bosman, who appeared to be sleepy, slipped into the sludge through the bars on the top level. Newman, who was on Naidoo's right-hand side on the steps also slipped in.

Naidoo grabbed onto Newman’s left hand with both of his hands, but the sludge was too slippery.

Addressing Naidoo by his nickname, he said: "Pappa, go up, I’m finished."

On the outside, Naidoo started feeling nauseous. When he came to again, there were unfamiliar people on the scene.

The judicial inquiry continues.

Read more on:    kimberley  |  accidents

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