Bethel College High School teen drowns after Sabbath service

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  • The police have opened an inquest after Grade 8 pupil Mandiluve Tamana allegedly drowned in a school campus reservoir. 
  • His parents believe he died under suspicious circumstances and have vowed to work with the police to uncover the truth.
  • The Cape Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, owners of the school, said it would be premature to comment about the details of the police investigation.  

The family of a schoolboy who was found dead inside a reservoir at Bethel College High School campus in Butterworth on Saturday, believe there is more to his death than a reported drowning incident.

Grade 8 pupil Mandiluve Tamana, 14, will be buried at his Engcobo home by the Baptist Pentecost Church on Saturday morning.

His father Simphiwe Tamana alleged differences in reports about the circumstances surrounding his son's death are fuelling his suspicions.

Tamana said he believes the police investigation will uncover the truth.

"I'm just not happy at all. The school is in constant contact with me but what I have not received from them is a full report about what happened. I was called and informed about the death of my son by the police," said Tamana.

He added that he finds it odd that the school management has not spoken to him about the incident.

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Tamana revealed that the school has been supportive with preparations for the funeral including contributing to cover costs.

"They bought a cow and vegetables, offered to pay for expenses for the funeral and even refunded me the school fees. I appreciate all they are doing, but when all of this over I want to know everything," said Tamana.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said an inquest docket has been opened for investigation following a drowning incident.

"It is alleged that the 14-year-old boy went outside his dormitory to a borehole within the school. He was later seen by other school children floating and (they) went to assist him. On arrival, police certified him dead," he said.

Asked to comment about Tamana's suspicions, executive secretary of the Cape Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, which owns the school, Danie Potgieter said: "The formal investigations are not completed yet, hence it would be premature to comment at this stage."

Potgieter said Tamana drowned while swimming in one of the campus reservoirs with six other boys.

He said this was after the seven pupils left the cafeteria and went back to their dormitory rooms where they took a decision among themselves to go for a swim.

"Once at the dormitory, they changed their Sabbath clothes and put on short pants and walked to the reservoir," said Potgieter.  

He said the principal and deputy principal at the school were informed of the drowning of Tamana and rushed back to find him already dead.

Potgieter said the principal and his deputy then drove to Msobomvu police station in Butterworth where they reported the incident.   

Potgieter said the pupils were given emotional and spiritual support following the incident.

"The school and the conference is supporting the investigation and is committed to fully cooperate with the South African Police Services as they investigate the incident," said Potgieter. 

The Cape Conference of Seventh Day Adventists has conveyed condolences to the Tamana family.

Potgieter did not respond to Tamana's allegation that he has not been given a full report of the incident.  

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