Cape Town- The deaths of four children, killed when a sand dune they were playing on collapsed, have left their families devastated, according to reports.
Four boys, aged 11 to 13, fell into a hole near the N2 at the Borcherds Quarry Road intersection in Cape Town on Monday afternoon. Just after 18:00, the bodies of two boys were retrieved. A third body was recovered at 21:00 on Monday and the fourth at 02:21 on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the children were identified by their families as Iva Kalikopu, 13, Nqabayethu Mlaza, 12, Axolile Mambangula, 11, and Azola Quweni, 13.
The four mothers, Landelwa Mlaza, Fundiswa Kalikopu, Thuliswa Mambangula and Nonkoliseko Quweni “clung to each other for comfort” as search operations were underway, according to the Daily Voice.
Relatives told IOL the families had been left heartbroken, with some struggling to accept the loss.
Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez extended condolences to the affected families, saying social workers would offer support and assistance to the families and neighbours “who have been left deeply traumatised by this heartbreaking incident”.
“I would like to thank everyone who assisted at the scene and who were actively involved in the search and all relevant stakeholders who are assisting the community at this difficult time,” Fernandez said.
Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato described the incident as a tragedy when he extended his condolences to the families, saying the incident “reminds us of the uncertainty of life”.
However, adding to the families’ grief is a Daily Voice report that Plato said the children should have been playing at facilities such as parks and sports fields.
Asked for clarity, City of Cape Town mayoral media officer Lyndon Khan said: “As quoted in the article, Mayor Dan Plato said there are sports fields nearby that could be used for recreation purposes.”
Ward councillor Khaya Yozi told News24 there were not nearly enough facilities to accommodate the thousands of children in the community and that local sports fields were closed because of Covid-19 regulations.
Plato’s reported response has garnered public outcry, with many saying it shows little understanding of the safety dynamics in the community.
The EFF took Plato to task.
“We are disgusted by the cold response from… Plato, who commented that there are enough play parks in Nyanga and that these children should not have been playing there in the first place,” the EFF statement read.