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Canal claims another victim

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The angry residents said that this was the second incident this year where someone had drowned in the canal

FATAL: The broken bridge between Ramatshela Cemetery and Riemvasmaak where a man tried to cross and lost his balance before falling into the water and drowning. Community members had tried in vain to rescue the man from the canal. Picture: Soraya Crowie

RESIDENTS of Riemvasmaak are blaming the Sol Plaatje Municipality following the drowning of man in a canal between Ramatshela Cemetery and Riemvasmaak.

The angry residents said that this was the second incident this year where someone had drowned in the canal.

“The first incident occurred when a Sol Plaatje municipal worker tried to cross the same bridge during heavy rain earlier this year. The bridge was totally washed away and the municipality never saw to it that it gets fixed. The mayor, Mangaliso Matika, came to the exact canal after the first drowning but never saw to it that the problem is addressed. How many people should die because of the laziness of the municipality?” the residents asked.

Leonard Jonas said that he and some other members of the community had tried in vain to save yesterday’s drowning victim.

Jonas said that he had seen the man standing at the canal and attempting to cross it.

“I saw the man walking from the shanties in Riemvasmaak. I was sitting at my home with my uncle. The man came to a standstill at the canal. It appeared that he slipped on the exposed water pipe when he tried to jump over the canal. We heard a loud sound of something falling into water. The man was looking for somewhere to cling to but could not find anything.

“I immediately went running to try assist him. I stood on a ledge and tried to assist the man. I tried to pull him out with a spade but it was too short. He was struggling in the water. It later appeared that he became tired and was no longer fighting.

“Because we did not know how deep the water was, we were afraid to jump inside the canal. The stream later washed the body down to the more level parts,” said Jonas.

Another community member, Akanyang Moremetsi, said that he was angry that the municipality had not fixed the bridge at the canal.

“My brother died in the same canal this year. We need engineers to see to this problem. This canal is a hazard to everyone. We have to cross it daily and some children even need to cross it in order to get to school. It is heartbreaking that another person had to lose their live because the matter was never addressed from the start,” said Moremetsi.

Municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said that the canal had been identified as one of the places that the municipality needed to revamp.

“We were alerted of the incident. The cause of the incident is subject to an investigation. We are, however, aware that bridges in some areas have been pointed out as being problematic. That area was identified by the municipality to be repaired as we need to ensure that bridges are secure for crossing and canals also need to be cleaned,” said Matsie.

He expressed his condolences to the family of the deceased.

“We wish to express our condolences to the family. We share in their loss and this was a very heartbreaking incident,” said Matsie.

Galeshewe police spokesperson, Captain Bashoabile Kale, said that they have opened an inquest following the incident.

“Galeshewe police are investigating an inquest following the drowning of man between the ages of 30 and 35 in a canal,” said Kale.

“It is believed that the deceased tried to cross the canal. The bridge over the canal was washed away during another incident. This is said to be the second incident in the area.

“The identity of the deceased cannot be revealed at this stage as the man’s family has not been contacted,” added Kale.