Teenage paddlers drown in Nagle

2010-11-05 00:00

THE community around Msinsi Nagle Dam and Game Reserve, Maqongqo, had to wait for two days before the search and rescue team found the bodies of two young paddlers who drowned on Wednesday.

Ninela (17) and his friend, Siyabonga Madondo (19), who were at Mbambangalo High School doing grade 10 and 11 respectively, went canoeing on Wednesday.

Their K2 kayak capsized barely 50 metres from shore, and they drowned.

According to the Lembethe Canoeing Club coach Lucas Mthalane Sanele had just started with the club and had only had three training sessions with them before the tragedy occurred.

He said, “Ninela and his friend decided to use the boat without any supervision, which is something that we always advocate against

“Worse — it appears that they did not even have safety jackets.”

He said this is the first time in the club’s 13 years that they have experience such a tragedy.

“We would like to send our deepest condolences to the bereaved families,” said Mthalane.

Christopher Ninela, Sanele’s father, said, “My son was a good boy who enjoyed canoeing. That’s why he wanted to join the club. He came back from school and took his friend for a paddling session not knowing what awaited them.

“I have no words to say, except that I am praying for the recovery of their bodies so that they can be given a decent burial,” said Ninela.

Canoeing South Africa general manager Graham Bird was shocked at the incident.

“It’s devastating for the boys’ families, who lost their sons to a recreational activity. All paddlers will be saddened by this news and our thoughts go out to the people close to Sanele and Siyabonga.

“It appears this incident was unavoidable due to non-members paddling outside of the club’s training sessions, and is ultimately why we urge aspiring paddlers to join their local club and go through the proficiency process before they take up canoeing by themselves.”

Managing director of Nagle Dam and Game Reserve, Jeff Dlamini, also offered his condolences to the families of the deceased.

“We have an agreement with the Lembethe Canoeing Club which caters for the safety of paddlers and we have also donated life jackets to them to prevent such things from happening,” said Dlamini.

He said he has asked for a report from the Msinsi Nagle Dam and the canoeing club so that the matter can be investigated to prevent such incidents occurring again.

Jack Haskins of the Pietermaritzburg search and rescue team said, “We started the search on Wednesday but had to call it off because it was dark. On Thursday we had to mobilise the Port Shepstone search and rescue team as well as the special task force. With their help it took us about an hour to complete the search.”

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