'Sense of relief' and closure for Khayalethu Magadla's family now that body was found

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The search for 6-year-old Khayalethu Magadla has ended.
The search for 6-year-old Khayalethu Magadla has ended.
PHOTO: Fani Mahuntsi, Gallo Images
  • Khayalethu Magadla's family can finally start their healing process after his body was found in the split chamber of the manhole he fell into. 
  • "Though we knew we wouldn't find him alive, the mere fact that he was found gives us, as a family, a sense of relief," one relative said.
  • Khayalethu will be buried in the Eastern Cape.

Before he is buried in the Eastern Cape later this month, family and friends will hold a memorial service to pay tribute to six-year-old Khayalethu Magadla, who died in Dlamini Park, Soweto after he fell into a manhole while playing with friends.

READ | Missing Khayalethu Magadla's body found after searching more than 20km of pipeline

Khayalethu's body was found at the Eldorado Park Cemetery wastewater plant on Saturday after a search that lasted almost 21 days.

On Monday, the Magadla family said they were relieved that they could finally get the closure they need and added that their healing process could start.

When News24 visited the family on Monday, they were busy with funeral arrangements.

One relative, Veli Mthethwa, said:

Though we knew we wouldn't find him alive, the mere fact that he was found gives us, as a family, a sense of relief. You can see on Khaya's parents' faces that it is as if a heavy burden has been lifted from their shoulders.

Mthethwa added that Khayalethu's mother would just sit in silence when people came to visit to comfort the family.

Community leader and family spokesperson Derrick Mngomezulu said the ordeal had taken its toll on the family, particularly Khayalethu's mother.

"She now speaks to people and she is able to move around, unlike before," he added.

Emergency Services officials conducting search
Johannesburg Emergency Services officials searched for Khayalethu Magadla after he fell into a manhole while playing with friends.

Mngomezulu, who has been supporting the family since the incident, told News24 that he could clearly recall their reactions when they heard that Khayalethu had been found.

"The emergency management service [officials] came to the family to inform them that they had found a child who matched Khaya's description and had the same clothes that he was wearing.

"They escorted the family to the split chamber. When the police were done with their job, the family was called forward to identify the body and they confirmed it was Khaya.

"Their reactions were like any other parents' [reactions]. They were torn and hurt," he said, adding that "relief then set in".

Mngomezulu added:

He had a gut feeling that his son was there, and looking back now, he was right. His son was trapped in the chamber.

According to Mngomezulu and Mthethwa, Kholekile's fatherly instinct and the community's help played a huge role in the search.

Mthethwa said: "Community members were present during every search conducted and they are the ones who kept pushing the search." 

"It shows how we not only walked this journey alone, but we had the community's support while we went through something this horrible," Mthethwa added.

Khayalethu Magadla with graduation cap, gown and certificate
Six-year-old Khayalethu Magadla.

Khayalethu will forever live on in their hearts, the relative added.

"He was a very active boy, who participated in a lot of things at school and we're even told that he was a team leader.

"If God had decided to keep him here with us for a longer time, who knows what kind of person he would have become? But I bet it would have been someone we would all look up to," Mthethwa added.

The memorial service will be held at 10:00 on Friday at Dlamini 1, Makhasi Street in Soweto.

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