Body of missing boy, 6, retrieved from sewage system in Joburg

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The body of the missing boy was found floating in a sewage pipe in Evaton. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)
The body of the missing boy was found floating in a sewage pipe in Evaton. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)
  • The body of the missing boy was found floating in a sewage pipe in Evaton.
  • Khomanani Mahwa disappeared after he fell into a sewer manhole outside his Orange Farm home.
  • Distraught family members confirmed it was the body of Khomanani.

"Thixo nguye lomntana. Nkulunkulu wami si yenzentoni?" [God it is him, My Lord, what have we done?]

This was what a woman shouted after relatives of the missing Khomanani Mahwa, 6, identified his body on Wednesday afternoon.

The body lay near the destroyed sewage manhole; it was covered with an orange blanket and protected by municipal workers to prevent people coming closer.

The little boy's partially-dressed body was retrieved from the manhole by heroic municipal worker, Isaac Mojahi.

READ | 'I want my son back home dead or alive' - search continues for missing 6-year-old Gauteng boy

Khomanani was last seen on Sunday, outside his home in Orange Farm, playing with his friends near three open sewage manholes.

It took three sleepless nights for City of Johannesburg and Emfuleni municipal workers to find the missing boy.

Khomanani's uncle, Eric Chauke, said the family had confirmed the body was that of the missing boy.

"I am speechless and don't have many words. We are relieved that we have found our child. His parents are not in a good state to speak now. I think they need counselling," said Chauke.

Emfuleni's mayor, Gift Moerane, said they were relieved that the tireless and 72-hour operation had yielded results.

"We are saddened that a life has been lost. We convey our condolences to the family of the boy. We understand how they feel at the moment. It was difficult for them for the past three days.

"Upon hearing the news that the boy had disappeared, I deployed our manpower and resources to ensure that the child was found. We had to destroy four manholes and divert sewage in order to find the boy.

"No parents expect to find their child dead. However, we are with them on these tough days. We want to offer our support to the family," Moerane said.

City of Johannesburg member of the mayoral committee for community development, Margaret Arnolds, said there was a problem of theft of manhole lids in the municipality.

"Someone must take responsibility. If we have to take responsibility, we will do so. It was a freak accident, and we don't know how it happened. We all have to say this will never happen on our watch. This will never happen if we close our manholes.

"If it is our fault, we need to be held accountable. We are aware that manhole covers are being sold at scrapyards. We need to ensure that all manholes remain covered," Arnolds said. 

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