- Three boys die as live cable falls into river as they swim
- Community leader pleads for legal electricity connections
- MEC condemns those who connect illegally
A fun frolic in the river ended in death for three boys at Jika Joe informal settlement when the howling wind blew a live electricity cable that had been illegally connected into the water.
Gift Dlamini (6), Buhlebuyeza ‘Boy’ Jili (8) and Ernest Dewa (8) were pulled from the water by residents who first had to cut the cable before they could get to them. Sources said there had been five boys swimming.
The other two were lucky and were not electrocuted.
Gift’s mother, Sweleni Dlamini, who lives near where the accident happened, told The Witness yesterday that she is devastated and still cannot eat because of the pain.
She said her son had left the house an hour earlier to play with his friends. “I did not know that they had gone swimming until one child came to my house and told me that there are children who have been electrocuted in the river. I rushed to the river but when I got there I only saw the other two children and Gift was metres away from them. Community members were called to assist and take them out of the river but unfortunately it was too late. There was blood and bubbles coming out of my son’s nose. It was very traumatic,” said the devastated mother.
Dlamini said she had a lot of hope that Gift would grow up and change their lives because he loved school and books. “Even on weekends he would take out his Grade R books and write and say, ‘Mother, look I can write now’. It is very hard, I never thought that he would leave me so soon.”
Buhlebuyeza’s grandmother, Khanyisile Jili, said she heard the news when “A young boy came into my house running. He was wet and naked and told me that Boy [Buhlebuyeza] has been electrocuted while swimming in the river. I was so shocked because Buhle was not a child that would leave the house. He used to play in front of the house with his friends or he would be inside the room watching television. I do not know what made him leave the house, but I guess God has his own plans,” she said.
Ernest’s mother, Thabile Dewa, said everything happened so fast because her son had only left the house for 30 minutes to buy fried chips.
“I thought that he had gone to play with his friends after buying chips. I never thought that they had gone swimming. I am so heartbroken because so many people have died here because of the illegal connections and now my child is gone too,” she said.
Dewa said she rushed to the scene after hearing that children had been electrocuted. By the time she got to the scene neighbours had already taken them out of the river.
Thembinkosi Magagula, who is the community leader at Jika Joe, said they wish the municipality would intervene and assist people with proper houses and electricity so that something like this will never happen again.
“We have lost so many lives here because of the illegal connections that we have lost count. It is heartbreaking because nothing is happening in terms of getting help. We had enough now, we do not want to lose more people because of these illegal connections.”
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sipho Hlomuka called for action to hold accountable those who are responsible for the illegal electricity connections.
“This tragic incident takes place at a time when we have commenced with the 16 Days of Activism against the Abuse of Women and Children campaign. This campaign is aimed at protecting the rights of the most vulnerable within our communities. For our province to lose three children in this manner is heartbreaking and calls for a stand against the dangerous illegal electricity connections that continue to spread in our communities. Those who make and benefit from illegal electricity connections must be held accountable,” said Hlomuka.
He has called on the Msunduzi Municipality to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident and hold to account those who are responsible for the illegal connections. He has also called upon the residents of Jika Joe to come forward with any information that might assist in apprehending those responsible for the spread of illegal connections.