A 9-year-old boy drowned while trying to save a friend from a construction pit, in Soshanguve, South Africa.
Thapelo Tambani, a pupil at Transoranje School for the deaf, was playing with friends on a heap of sand near a construction site last Wednesday.
One of his friends suddenly slipped into a nearby water-filled trench. Tambani managed to rescue his friend, but ended up sliding into the trench himself.
His brother Joseph tried to rescue Tambani, but he had disappeared under the murky water.
A week later after Tambani’s death, relatives and residents are blaming a construction firm for the unsafe conditions at the site. His mother Sarah said:
“I blame the contractor for the passing of my son. The scene is now made to look like it was safe all along.”
However, the construction company, Vharanani Properties , said it was not to blame.
They claim safety measures had been in place at the excavated trench in the area near Soshanguve South Secondary School in Extension 10 at the time of the accident.
“The trench had been securely barricaded with safety nets,” noted site manager Jerry Sawena.
Extension 10 residents disputed the company’s claims that the trench had always been secured.
Samuel Maluleka, who lives close to the trench, said the contractor could have done more to ensure the safety of the community, especially of children.
“The safety net was not tight as it fell down at times without the company returning to fix it,” said Maluleka.
“We have children in the area – they should have thought of that.”
Another resident, William Soloms, said the trench was only sealed after Tambani’s death.
“The child was pulled out of the trench on late on Wednesday evening, but Thursday morning we woke up to a sealed pit.”
Akasia police spokesperson Matsobane Mabusela said an inquest into the cause of death was underway.