The Guard

The Truth On Board


By Masilo Malakwane

QWAQWA – It was a heart-breaking moment for Thabo Maphatlalatsa on Tuesday, as he watched the Maluti-A-Phofung emergency diving crew retrieving the lifeless body of his seven-year-old son from a dam, before wrapping it in a blanket.

Tseko Eric drowned from dam while playing with his friends at a quarry near rental rooms at Slovo Park on Monday.

Even though he tried to remain strong during the entire operation of retrieving his son and at some stage trying to help, grief had the better of Maphatlalatsa and he inevitably broke down in tears.

The devastated father told The Guard: “We tried to save his life, but we failed. We ended up getting injured as you see how dangerous this place looks.”

Searching for body of little Tseko Maphatlalatsa who drowned while playing at quarry.

Recalling the last time, he saw his boy alive, Maphatlalatsa said: “I was with him in the yard and before I knew it, he had gone to play with his mates. Little did I know that was my last conversation with him.”  

Tseko’s mother also sustained minor injuries during the unsuccessful search and rescue operation on Monday.

The Maluti-a-Phofung rescue team worked throughout Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning to ensure that family of Maphatlalatsa find closure.

Tseko has joined a long list of people who have drowned and lost their lives at the same ‘dam’ which is a result of heavy quarrying. Some have fallen into the dam while others have simply been sucked in by the massive refuse as the area is now also doubling up as a landfill.

One of the local residents, who witnessed the rescue operation, hopes this latest is an eye opener that will jog the authorities into action.

“We are weeping because this could have been averted. This should be a lesson to us as a community, to pay careful attention to the children in our community. Your child is not just the one you are raising in your home. We are appealing for this quarry to be closed,” she said.

While offering condolences and support to the bereaved family, the Executive Mayor of Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality Masetjhaba Lakaje-Mosia who was in the company of the Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for local economic devolvement, urged the family to remain strong because there was nothing they could have done, it was all beyond their control.

“This is an extremely painful moment that the family has to endure. We did everything in our power, using every equipment and manpower at the disposal of the municipality and the South African Police Service, but it was just not meant to be.”

Lakaje Mosia also promised to attend to the quarry to avoid further loss of lives.

Meanwhile, the Phuthaditjhaba police have confirmed opening an inquest into the fatal incident.