Distraught family tells how child drowned in unsecured hole

2015-10-30 11:01
Awande Bhengu’s uncle, Bheki, uses a broomstick to show the depth of the hole that his nephew drowned in. (Amil Umraw, The Witness)

Awande Bhengu’s uncle, Bheki, uses a broomstick to show the depth of the hole that his nephew drowned in. (Amil Umraw, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A sobbing family on Thursday told of how their 14-month-old toddler drowned in a small hole left unsecured by contractors in Mooi River.

On Wednesday afternoon, Awande Bhengu drowned in a hole not more than a metre deep outside his homestead in the Ecwaka area near Mooi River.

The hole, which was left unsecured, was dug by contractors hired by the municipality as part of a project to electrify the area.

The Witness, along with municipal officials and Mpofana mayor Maureen Magubane, visited the distraught family on Thursday.

Sitting on blankets in their hut with a small shrine dedicated to Awande placed in the middle, family members spoke of their ordeal.

According to Awande’s uncle, Bheki Bhengu, his nephew and another child were playing behind the adults who were collecting mud for their houses at about 15:00 on Wednesday.

The two children had gone quiet and out of the adults’ sight for about 20 minutes when a call for help was heard from Awande’s mother.

The child had fallen into a small hole next to one of the homes, only 10 metres away from his mother.

It is believed he fell into the hole head-first and was knocked unconscious. When he was discovered 20 minutes later, he had already drowned.

Hysterical, the family called the police who in turn called for medical assistance.

Paramedics declared the toddler dead after a short examination.

According to Mpofana municipal manager Max Moyo, the municipality had embarked on a project in August last year to electrify wards 2 and 4 in the outlying areas of Mooi River.

Moyo said a consulting firm employed by the municipality had identified a company to install the electricity poles and cables in the rural areas.

“The hole Awande fell into was for a service pole for an electricity meter for that house. It is a very unfortunate situation and we are all equally saddened,” Moyo said. “We will assist with the funeral arrangements.”

Bhengu said that the family was finding it difficult to cope.

“It has been very hard and we have ultimately had to come to terms with what happened …” he said.

Awande lived with his uncle, his mother and grandmother.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  drownings

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