Fun at the river ends tragically for pals

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

What started out as a normal day of cooling off in a nearby river ended in tragedy yesterday when two young boys were found drowned.

Zakhele Mdletshe, 8, and his friend, Mceleleni S'thole, 9, drowned in Umfolozi River at Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Shocked community members said the day before had been hot and the two had gone to cool off at the river.

Captain Vusi Mbatha, a spokesman for the Ulundi police, said when the boys failed to return concerned adults went to search for them but without success.

He said: "Poor visibility forced the search to be called off. The next morning the bodies of the two boys were discovered on the banks of the river."

Zakhele's aunt, Ncane Mdletshe, said the two boys were best friends and had both been good swimmers.

She said the river had dried up after a drought but had started to fill after recent rains.

"We never thought they would die in the river," she said. "We are extremely hurt by this because they were so young."

Local authorities have warned parents to look after their children and know their whereabouts at all times and also warned other swimmers to be careful.