Sand buries diggers alive

2010-05-27 00:00

TRAGEDY struck the Maswazini area in Elandskop near Boston yesterday when two young men digging for building sand were killed when a wall of sand collapsed on top of them.

Thando Zungu (20) and Saluleka Shelembe (22) were buried alive by a “mountain of soil”.

Four of their friends had a lucky escape.

It took at least two hours for their bodies to be dug out of the soil because the emergency workers at the scene feared the quarry, which is unstable, may be subject to another collapse.

The bodies of Zungu and Shelembe lay on top of a large mound of soil while their friends and members of the community and looked in horror.

Mluleki Dlamini (30), one of the people with Shelembe and Zungu when they were killed, said he is still shocked at what he had witnessed.

He said he, Zungu, Shelembe and three other friends were digging building sand to help Shelembe’s aunt, who is building her house.

Dlamini said it was the first time they had been to the area to dig out the sand.

“We started digging at about 9 am, and at about 9.45 am Shelembe and Zungu went inside the sand quarry to remove the sand.

“That was when it just collapsed on top of them.

“There was no warning or sign that it was about to collapse.”

Dlamini, who described Zungu and Shelembe as good friends, said he was shocked by their deaths.

Ningi Shelembe, the aunt for whom the men were digging the sand, said the death of her nephew and his friend has left her without hope.

“I did not even want them to go there because I had an uneasy feeling about this, but he [Shelembe] insisted that he would call all his friends and they would dig the sand out and I would only have to buy plaster sand, but then tragedy struck.

“I have lost all hope because he was the oldest and I thought he would be able to help me look after the family.”

Community members described the area as treacherous and said it is not the first time that people have died digging for sand there.

Local induna David Ntombela called for the community to stop digging for sand there.

Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan confirmed the incident and said an inquest docket has been opened.

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