Seeing his lifeless body made me sad

The mother of a boy who drowned in the Klipriver in Eldorado Park said yesterday that she was traumatised by the incident.

"I looked at his lifeless body when he was brought out of the water. It made me sad. His eyes were open. He was looking at me," said Louisa Neethling, who added that she could not believe that her son was dead.

Nine-year-old Gregory Neethling drowned on Sunday afternoon while playing with his brother Lesley, 7, and their friend Damien Dlamini, 12.

The body of the Grade 2 pupil of the Firethorn Primary School was brought to the surface at about 9.40am yesterday.

Community patroller Jeffrey Klassen, who found the body, said: "As I was poking into the river with my pipe bubbles started coming up and the water was circling. Something told me he was there and I called the emergency guys."

But the family said their son would have been found alive had emergency personnel continued with the search on Sunday.

"I am angry that they stopped searching too early. At 11pm they said they were calling off the search because it was Sunday and they had no manpower. If they had continued with the search, my nephew would have been found last night," said Sebastian Adams.

Emergency Management Services spokesperson JJ Viljoen said they called off the search because the divers were tired and it was getting dark.

"They had been in the river for more than an hour. The other factor was bad light," he said.

Damien's mother, Desiree Dlamini, said her son had told her that Gregory fell into the river and they tried to pull him out but they could not reach his hand.

"I feel sorry for Gregory's mother. This could have happened to anyone," she said.