Tragedy hit a small rural community near Polokwane, in Limpopo, when two sisters lost their children - three boys, aged between nine and 12 - who drowned after swimming in a shallow water-filled pit.
The excavation was one of several that had been dug by a contractor to obtain sand to repair the local road at the nearby village of Newlands.
Albert Legodi, 12, Albert Thantsha, 8, and his cousin, Sello Thantsha, 8, drowned in one of the holes. The boys had been accompanied by Albert Thantsha's brother - William, 12, and brothers Fannie, 12, and Katlego Phahlane, 9 - who reportedly left their homes in the village of Sengatane on Saturday to look for wild fruit in Newlands.
Grieving parents yesterday said the contractor should have closed the holes.
Johanna Thantsha, mother of the deceased Sello, yesterday said she was at home and was surprised to see one of the boys running towards her.
"He was screaming saying his brother had drowned together with two other boys and I ran there. When police arrived at the scene they took out the bodies and I could immediately recognise my son," Thantsha said.
Jackina Thantsha, Johanna's sister and mother of Albert Thantsha, said their other concern was that the families could not afford to bury the children.
"It's a very difficult period in our lives. We don't have money to make a living, so the burial is a huge burden for us," Jackina Thantsha said.
Seshego police spokesman Inspector Mohlaka Mashiane said the police had opened an inquest docket.