A quick dip ends in tragedy as two girls drown in the Duzi

2014-01-03 00:00

A QUICK dip into the water to cool off from the heat of the day turned to tragedy for the families of two little girls in Caluza yesterday.

Noluthando Dzanibe (5), Zama Thando Mbatha (3) and Bandile Mkhize (5) were swimming in the Msunduzi River in Caluza, when Noluthando and Mbatha got into difficulties in the water and drowned.

Noluthando was found 300 metres down the river while Zama was about 500 metres away from where they started swimming.

Nhlanhla Ntuli (15), who pulled one of the children from the river, said he rushed there after hearing a child was drowning.

“I saw her floating in the water. I undressed and jumped into the water to try and help her, but it was too late for me to save her life.

“When I pulled her out of the water, the adults said she was already dead,” said Nhlanhla.

Nhlanhla, who dreams of becoming a police officer in the search and rescue unit, said he was not scared as he felt it was his duty to jump in the water. He was sad that he could not save her.

Nolusapho Dzanibe, Noluthando’s aunt, told The Witness that they were called to the river by a neighbour.

“We were told that there were children crying at the river. I started checking where the children were as they had been playing in the yard. We then rushed to see what was happening and we found the other child who had survived on the bank of the river. He told us that the girls had drowned,” said Dzanibe.

Phumzile Mkhize, the grandmother of survivor Bandile, said Bandile told her he managed to hold on to a branch of a tree and cried until he was rescued.

The boy who was shaking, with scratches on his body, looked traumatised by the incident.

Zama’s father, Mandla Mbatha, was distraught and wept next to the body of his child.

“Why is this happening to us? I don’t believe this. Why are we starting the year with this painful incident?”

The community that gathered at the banks of the river speculated that the children must have seen older people swimming in the river and had followed them in.

Plessislaer youth desk chairperson Sibonelo Shangase said parents must be very cautious.

“No one must be allowed to swim in this river, regardless of age. They must be chased away from the river. We can’t afford to lose other lives. This is a dangerous river.”

Paramedics from ER24 and the SAPS Search and Rescue unit were at the scene, but it was too late to save the girls.

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said, “Paramedics found that they both showed no signs of life and they were unable to resuscitate them. They were later declared dead on the scene.”

In another incident, a two-year-old-boy died in Mandeni on the north coast yesterday afternoon. Netcare 911’s Chris Botha said the boy’s parents found the child floating in a pool and raced him to a local clinic.

“Netcare 911 paramedics arrived at the clinic and immediately started advanced life support resuscitation. Tragically, despite all the efforts, the patient was declared dead at the clinic,” said Botha.

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