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Painful 7th birthday for missing Khayalethu's family

His father, Kholekile Magadla said the boy’s birthday was only a reminder of his absence

Kholekile Magadla said the family was hoping for divine intervention in the attempts to find his son or his remains.
Kholekile Magadla said the family was hoping for divine intervention in the attempts to find his son or his remains.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Monday would have been Khayalethu Magadla’s seventh birth, however it turned into a day of confusion and anguish for his family as his body is yet to be recovered after he fell into a manhole in Soweto nine days ago.

Khaya, as he is affectionately known, fell into an open sewer manhole nine days ago at a popular park in Dlamini 1. Teams of rescuers, divers and water engineers have been searching the 13km pipeline with no luck of finding him.

His father, Kholekile Magadla said the boy’s birthday was only a reminder of his absence.  

“We would have bought a cake to celebrate his birthday,” Magadla said.

“But it is very difficult to celebrate when we haven’t even found his body. Just a week ago it was his younger brother’s birthday, we got some cake but couldn’t finish it. Today he asked why we did not finish his cake because we still had Khayalethu’s cake to eat.”

Magadla said the family was hoping for divine intervention in the attempts to find his son or his remains.

“The search seems like it’s going to take a long time. All I can pray for is that they find him so that we can find closure,” he said.

“I feel like I am trapped in a bottle. It feels like a terrible nightmare that I am yet to wake up from.”

The emotional father said he has been spending sleepless nights trying to monitor the search and recovery team based at the Klipspruit split chamber where all the sewer flows to.

He too, like officials, had his hope pinned on the area as teams struggled to make any progress finding the boy at the various manholes in the area.

“Every day and night I visit the chamber and I can see that they are trying their best, working through the night to find him.

“I am hoping that they find the child there because things aren’t looking up as it stands. But through God and the ancestors, I believe they will find him.”

Wishing his son a happy birthday Magadla said: “Happy birthday my boy. I would have given you R1, I know you would have asked for it. It’s the last thing I gave to you when I last saw you.”

Joburg water officials excavate a manhole in Dlamini to allow divers to access a pipe.
Joburg water officials excavate a manhole in Dlamini to allow divers to access a pipe.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The seventh day of the search and recovery has seen rescuers, with the assistance of robotics, scanning through pipelines on Main Road in Soweto.

Some of the manholes were revisited for the third time and according to Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi this was to make sure that nothing was missed.

The distance from where the boy fell in, in Dlamini 1, to the Klipspruit sewer chamber near the Avaton Cemetery, is 13km. The first 8km have already been searched twice.

“We are left with 6km to cover in the next few days. We will not stop the search. We hope to find the boy and hand him over to his family as we promised.

“If we don’t find the boy in the split chamber we will go back to the drawing board and devise a new plan, but we will not stop the search,” said Mulaudzi.

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