Child (12) drowns in pool of water caused by a burst water pipe near Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal

Community members, inlcuding young children, gathered next to the pool of water where a 12-year-old girl drowned on Tuesday afternoon.PHOTO: CLAUDINE SENEKAL, Ladysmith Herald
Community members, inlcuding young children, gathered next to the pool of water where a 12-year-old girl drowned on Tuesday afternoon.PHOTO: CLAUDINE SENEKAL, Ladysmith Herald

A 12-year-old girl from Umbulwane, just outside Ladysmith, drowned on Tuesday afternoon while playing in a pool of water that formed due to a burst water pipe.

Umbulwane residents told the police that a group of children had been playing around a pool of water that has resulted from seepage over the past few months caused by a burst water pipe.

“The water is clear and many of our animals drink there and even we go and collect the water to use at home,” said a bystander, who watched in horror as residents pulled the 12-year-old’s body from the water hole, which was about just below the hip deep.

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Residents told Ladysmith Herald that the burst pipe has been reported to uThukela District Municipality, but nothing has been done. They said children have been seen playing near the burst water pipe on hot days, but no one thought that something like this could happen.

“I think if the pipe had been fixed, maybe the child would be alive today,” said another resident.

The child was declared dead on the scene by the Ladysmith ER24 team.

The girl has not been officially identified and police said Ladysmith SAPS has opened an inquest docket.

“None of our local councillors or leaders are here to see what is really going on. Not only is water being wasted, but on the other side raw sewage is filling up the streets and our children are playing in it,” said another resident.

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Jabulani Mkhonza, spokesperson for uThukela District Municipality, said the City was not aware of the incident on Wednesday when The Witness initially called them.

Mkhonza later confirmed the drowning of the young girl and that it was indeed a leaking pipe that created that pool of water.

“As the municipality, we would like to convey our sincere condolences to the family for their loss,” he said.

Mkhonza said the district municipality has an ongoing problem of their infrastructure being vandalised. He said last month alone, he issued three statements in three weeks urging people to not vandalise and to report vandalism to the municipality.

“Our superintendent who visited Umbulwane today [Wednesday] said there was a broken valve due to vandalism…”

He said a requisition has been made for the repairs, but it’s difficult to give a time frame at the moment because it is well-known that the municipality is strapped for cash.

Mkhonza again pleaded with residents not to vandalise infrastructure as the results could be devastating - Ladysmith Herald.

• Ladysmith Herald
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