Government to pay funeral costs after boy's death in a trench

An image of a trench
An image of a trench
Image: Alexandr Shadrov/123rf

A multi-governmental task team has been established to support the family of Nsuku Mhlongo, a six-year-old boy who died in Giyani, Limpopo, after falling into an open trench last weekend.

The team, which is led by the mayor of Mopani district municipality Nkakareng Rakgoale, includes officials from the department of water and sanitation (DWS), provincial and local governments, Lepelle Northern Water and community representatives. The team has also conducted an assessment of all open trenches in the area and “immediately” closed uncovered pits to prevent more fatalities.

DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said yesterday that government regretted the incident and that they were committed to assist the Mhlongo family with funeral arrangements.

“Government has also committed to not only assist the Mhlongo family with funeral arrangements but to also lend a helping hand should the family decide to take legal action,” Ratau said.

The boy died on Saturday after falling into a trench left open by a contractor in Homu village.

The victim was in the company of his friends when the incident happened. The boy's lifeless body was retrieved by his father who was assisted by community members.

Following the unfortunate incident, which family spokesperson Foster Chavalala described as a double tragedy due to the fact that the provision of water still remained a pipe dream in the village, the family called for government to incur the burial costs.

“We believe the government will do the right thing and take care of funeral costs because it was as a result of a government project that our son had lost his life,” Chavalala was quoted as saying early this week.

The boy, who was a pupil at Madzivi primary school, leaves behind his two older sisters.

Ratau said in its efforts to ensure that the Giyani Intervention Water Project was completed; the department was in the process of dispatching construction engineers to go on site in Giyani as a matter of urgency.

He said the Giyani Intervention Water Project had been under implementation since August 2014 and had so far delivered approximately 92% of the original scope of work.

“There is currently a very high risk that some of the achieved project outputs are likely to be lost due to vandalism of incomplete work or loss of materials on site,” he said, adding that phase one of Giyani needed around R420 million to make the infrastructure functional.

Chavalala's could not be found for comment yesterday as his mobile phone was on voice mail.

frankm@sowetan.co.za

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