Children swept away by river

DANGER CROSSING: Sowetan journalist Alex Matlala indicates where the children were swept away. © Sowetan.
DANGER CROSSING: Sowetan journalist Alex Matlala indicates where the children were swept away. © Sowetan.

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The police in Mahwelereng have opened an inquest docket after five young boys were swept away by an overflowing river after torrential rains fell in Limpopo yesterday.

It is alleged the boys, all under the age of 10, were swept away by the water while trying to walk across a pipe that stretched across the river.

Police said one of the boys was rescued by local residents while he was struggling in the water.

They said the bodies of two of the children who had drowned were still missing and that police divers were continuing to search for the bodies.

A shocked community and parents of the drowned children spent the morning grieving next to the stream that had claimed the lives of their children.

They pledged they would help police find the missing bodies.

Relatives and villagers brought food, cooking utensils and wood to the scene to cook for those holding the vigil.

"We aren't going anywhere," said one of the villagers.

"We will spend the whole day and night here as long as our children are still missing."

Another villager said they had previously asked the local government to build a bridge over the stream for people to cross to the other side, but that to date nothing had been done - and that they had heard nothing from any official.

"We don't know if they need more lives to be lost before they meet our demands," he said.

Police cautioned parents to guard their children after heavy rains and to discourage them from crossing the streams when flooding occurred.

Superintendent Moahale Ramatseba, the police spokesman for Limpopo, also told Sowetan that three women and a man were struck by lightning yesterday in Mahwelereng.

The man died at the scene and the three women were taken to Mahwelereng Hospital where they were admitted with serious head and body injuries.

The man's name cannot be revealed until his next of kin have been notified.

Ramatseba said the incident occurred in the outlying areas of the Mahwelereng- Moshate area where the four had been ploughing the fields.