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Families trying to come to terms with death of Nyanga boys who fell into hole

Cape Town – The family of Nqabayethu Mlaza, one of the four boys whose bodies were retrieved from a hole near the N2 on Monday night, has described him as a respectful and a humble boy who was full of life.

Nqabayethu, 12, was playing with his friends when they tragically fell into a hole off the N2 near Nyanga on Monday night.

It’s suspected someone illegally collected sand and left a pit wherein the children fell.

A five-year-old who escaped reported the incident to a resident, who then called for help.

Axolile Mabangula, 11, Azola Quweni, 13, and Iva Kalikopu, also 13, were later found dead by authorities.

When the Cape Times visited the family yesterday morning, they were preparing to go to Salt River Forensic Pathology Services to identify the bodies.

Spokesperson for the Mlaza family, Nondiphe Thonjeni, said Nqabayethu was very close to his twin sister.

“The incident is very horrific, and no parent can deal with this nightmare. This is just beyond our control. He loved his family dearly. He was just an ordinary kid who was full of life, very respectful, and humble.

’’Also, he was very close to his twin sister, and you just could not separate them. The community is very disappointed by the progress of City officials to retrieve the bodies because this was an emergency.

“We expected them to respond swiftly, but it took them more than three hours to start the process of digging.

“The place was their playing ground, and none of us thought that such an incident would happen. It’s been years and years that children played there, and this has shocked the whole community.

“We urge the municipality to prevent illegal digging of sand and start to properly fix the sinkholes and other things that are dangerous to our communities,” said Thonjeni.

Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said Gugulethu police have opened inquest dockets.

“On Monday at about 3.30pm, Gugulethu SAPS members attended to a scene at N2 Borchards Quarry Road opposite Europe informal settlement in Gugulethu where five children were playing on the side (of the road) under the N2 surface sand, and it collapsed, and the four boys fell into the hole.

’’A five-year-old boy survived and ran to report the incident to the community. All services were immediately dispatched to the scene.

“At about 6.20pm the first two bodies were recovered – 11-year-old Axolile Mabangula and 12-year-old Nqabayethu Mlaza. At about 9pm the third body of 13-year-old Azola Quweni was recovered and at about 3am yesterday morning the body of 13-year-old Iva Kalikopu.

’’All the children are from the Europe informal settlement in Gugulethu. Counselling for the families was arranged,” said Van Wyk.

Mayor Dan Plato yesterday went to visit the families but they were already en route to the morgue. He said he would meet with the families today to offer them assistance.

“This is an incident that should have never happened, but considering their age group and the place where this happened, they had no chance to have come out.

“This is a very deep hole. It is astonishing that people illegally dig out the sand to build their houses.

’’I have had negative comments regarding the slow pace of officials to respond to the matter.

“I will take the matter to my office and look at the reports and look at when they arrived and what took them more than four hours to start digging,” said Plato.