'Did they find him yet?' - friend of toddler trapped in mineshaft

2017-03-15 11:16
A rescue worker descending into the mine shaft where a 5-year-old boy went missing. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

A rescue worker descending into the mine shaft where a 5-year-old boy went missing. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


WATCH: Very slim chance of finding boy lost in mine shaft - officials

2017-03-02 09:37

There is a slim chance that the 5-year-old boy, who fell into a disused mine shaft in Jerusalem in Boksburg, will be found alive, emergency services have said.WATCH

Johannesburg - He screamed for help and then disappeared into the darkness of the disused mineshaft. 

This is the moment that a friend of 5-year-old Richard Thole, whose body is yet to be retrieved from the mineshaft in Jerusalem, an informal settlement in Boksburg, keeps reliving, the boy's mother says.

"[My son] heard his last cry for help before he disappeared. It was like he witnessed his last moments with his friend disappear into darkness," the woman told News24 on Tuesday.

While her identity is known to News24, it has been withheld to protect the identity of her 5-year-old child who is still suffering from the trauma of witnessing the incident.

Richard fell into the mineshaft on February 25.

The mother of two said her son came running to their house and told her what had happened. They immediately rushed to Richard's parent's house, which was not too far from their home. 

We told his parents what happened. His mother was shocked and called the ambulance for help.

'Did they find him yet?

She said her son held on to a glimmer of hope that his friend would be found. 

"'Did they find him yet?' Was all he asked every day. He just wanted him to come home and play with him again," the woman said.

She said when rescue teams could not find Richard, her son became very distressed and she sent him to be with family members in Limpopo. 

Her son, who is her youngest child, has been in Limpopo since March 1, she said.

He has an older brother who is 16 years old. 

On Tuesday, News24 made several attempts to reach the office of Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina to find out what the municipality's proposed plan of action was since his visit to the site with members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) on March 2.

Search halted

Masina's spokesperson Gugu Ndima said on March 7 that the SANDF would release a statement the following day. To date, nothing has been received. 

The search operation to find Richard was halted more than a week ago.

Ekurhuleni emergency services spokesperson William Ntladi said at the time that finding Richard alive was unlikely considering the number of days the boy had been in the shaft.

Ntladi said heavy rock falls had delayed efforts to find the 5-year-old.

Two weeks ago, Mine Rescue Services sent a camera down the shaft three times. Each time it got caught between a pile of rocks on a ledge at a depth of 60m.

How long Richard's family will have to wait remains to be seen.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  accidents  |  mining

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.