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Theft blamed for tragedies

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The bridges had been vandalised and that the steel handrails were stolen from the frame

Picture; Danie van der Lith

SOL PLAATJE Municipality has attributed the death of one of its employees, who drowned, to the theft of the handrails over the bridge that he was crossing during heavy rains on the weekend.

James Kabelo Koloku, 42, and Ashley Mogorosi, 45, drowned in separate incidents on Sunday when they fell into water canals while crossing two different bridges in the Dunston area.

Their bodies were swept away by the water, during strong rains, and were later retrieved by the SAPS Diving Unit in the veld near the Gogga Pump Station.

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Mangaliso Matika, along with municipal manager Goolam Akharwaray and a delegation of municipal officials, visited the families of the deceased and yesterday also inspected the bridge where Koloku drowned.

Matika indicated that the bridges had been vandalised and that the steel handrails were stolen from the frame.

“We will keep in contact with the families and assist with the burials. Our infrastructure is more than 60 years old. Our city is growing and we need to upgrade the drainage system.”

Matika also emphatically denied that Gogga Pump Station was experiencing leakages.

“We have spent R20 million on improving infrastructure. The overflow is rainwater mixing with the sewer water as the entire city’s water ends at Gogga Pump Station. There are no leakages.”

Matika made a commitment to clean out and close the canal.

“We will be advised by an engineer on what can be done. Closing it will also create drainage problems. However, we want to avoid the further loss of lives.”

Akharwaray pointed out that they were in the process of upgrading the stormwater drainage system through a R500 million grant that was received from the neighbourhood development partnership grant.

“Historically Kimberley is a low rainfall area, while during the past five to six years there has been an unusually high amount of rain.”

He indicated that Galeshewe, along with Roodepan, was situated below the flood line, which typically experienced drainage issues.

Spokesperson for Sol Plaatje Municipality, Sello Matsie, added that illegal dumping was also contributing to drain blockages.