DA pleads with public protector to protect Ikageng children from deadly canals

Heartbroken Maria Mnanzana, the mother of the 8-year-old boy, Mosimanegape Mothabe who drowned in the water canal a few years ago. Photo: Selogile Leshage

The drowning of 6-year-old Boitshoko Malekane from Ext. 6 in a water canal last Monday has prompted the opposition to seek intervention from the public protector.
An unidentified woman discovered the little boy and the police’s diving team took the lifeless body out of the water. This brings the death toll of children who have drowned in the canal to six.

The same canal runs through the extension and other areas.
Hans-Jurie Moolman, the Democratic Alliance caucus chairperson in J.B. Marks Municipality says the party has written to the public protector. The DA is demanding an urgent investigation into the canals in Ikageng. It aims to ensure that there are no further deaths due to unfenced water canals.
‘Our requests to secure the area safe and put proper safety measures in place have been blatantly ignored in the past. The municipality has used the excuses that fencing is constantly vandalised and there is no budget available. This is simply not good enough. Only concrete slabs over the open canal can prevent these tragedies from taking place,’ he fumed.
Water canals are death-traps for residents
Moolman highlighted the urgent need to safeguard the lives of the community, especially since the good rains have led to overflowing canals. ‘Potchefstroom had an average of 150 mm of rain in January and nearly 100 mm in February. This has turned these canals into death traps for residents in the area,’ he said. ‘The J.B. Marks Municipality cannot simply convey its condolences every time a child dies. The lives in our communities, especially of our children, should be protected. We hope the public protector will see the urgency of putting safety measures in place sooner than later.’

The storm water canal that runs past Extension 7, among others, has already claimed the lives of six children after heavy rains.
Photo:
Selogile Leshage

‘This is pure negligence and these tragedies could have been prevented if the municipality had responded to our pleas in the past.
‘Our communities deserve better and need total change – where the safety of our communities and the well-being of our children are promoted and protected at all times. Only the DA can bring a caring government with safe environments as prescribed in our Constitution,’ he maintained.
Mother of another water canal victim has previously warned council
In 2016, the Herald brought up the subject of 8-year-old Mosimanegape Peter Mothabe who drowned in 2013. A 23-year-old man discovered the body while coming back from a night vigil at his church.
When speaking to the Herald, the boy’s mother, Maria Mnanzana wanted the council to do something about the canal before it claimed another life. She said that, after her son fell into the canal, his elder brother jumped in after him and tried to rescue him. He, too, got into difficulty. Fortunately for him, though, a passer-by noticed little fingers clinging desperately to the edge of the wall and dragged him out.
*Willie Maphosa, the council spokesperson had not responded to the Herald’s questions in time for the deadline.

  AUTHOR
Selogile Leshage
Journalist

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