Boy drowns in trench in Free State township

2017-02-17 22:25
The new fence was also erected in Tswaraganang, an area near the scene of the accident. (Picture: Jakobus Greeff)

The new fence was also erected in Tswaraganang, an area near the scene of the accident. (Picture: Jakobus Greeff)

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Johannesburg – A six-year-old boy has drowned in a trench dug during a now-abandoned sanitation project which has been marred by irregularities and lack of money, in a Free State township.

The six-year-old child was playing with friends after school when he apparently slipped and fell into the trench, where he drowned, on Tuesday. His school is close to the site.

The hole was left open after a toilet-building project, in the Dikgalaope township, in the Tokologo local municipality, was left incomplete last year.

Municipal spokesperson Caswell Thlokwe said the contractors stopped work in December and had not been back since. The water affairs department funded the project as part of a bucket-toilet eradication project.

“There seems to be an issue of some outstanding payment for the contractors from the department, so that could be the reason why they [contractors] are not back on site,” he said.

"They left some holes where they were going to do some connections. The holes were properly fenced to prevent kids from getting in. I was called to go and check and I went there personally. My observation when I was there on Tuesday was that there was indeed one side that was tampered with."

Contractors fenced the hole off on Thursday afternoon to prevent further accidents or deaths.

Director of sub-contractor ProCare, Jakobus Greeff, said they were employed to help build the toilets. They left the site in May 2016.

“They stopped us from working a month into the project and told us to leave within 24 hours. The area was fenced off. We heard there was no money and some sort of irregularity," he said.

According to Greeff, another contractor continued working on the project until they weren't paid.

The contractors were planning to take legal action against the department.

"At the moment, we are prepared to let this play out in court,” department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said.

“There is a dispute about the verification of the work done and a dispute about the invoice and money that is due to be paid,” he said.

The DA sent its condolences to the boy’s family. Local DA councillor, Merafe Sekwaemang, said he would demand a full culpable homicide investigation.

Read more on:    da  |  accidents
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