Drowned North West pupils missed school because of teachers’ workshop
The North West education department on Wednesday revealed that the two children who drowned at a construction site in Lebaleng township had missed school because of a teachers’ workshop.
“The two boys were not at school on the day of the incident as the school released letters to parents of all grade 3 learners that teachers will be attending a workshop [on Tuesday],” said department spokesperson Elias Malindi.
While the police earlier said the boys were aged eight and 10, the education department said they were actually seven and eight and had been in grade 3 and 4 respectively.
It was not immediately clear why the grade 4 pupil had also been kept away from school.
Commenting on the drowning, Lt-Col Amanda Funani said a big hole dug up during construction had transformed into a dam following heavy rains.
“It is alleged that when the seven young boys, who are between the ages of eight and 10, saw the water, they decided to go for a swim. Two boys allegedly got into trouble and drowned,” she said.
The other boys noticed that their two friends were in trouble and sought help. “One of them ran to the township. He came across a police vehicle, stopped it and reported the incident.
"Police rushed to the scene and called the divers, who retrieved the two bodies.”
The children were certified dead on scene.
Education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela visited the boy’s grieving families on Wednesday.
"As the school community as a whole in the North West province, we are devastated by this unfortunate incident. We are crying with the family as their loss is equally our loss," she told the families.
Matsemela echoed the sentiments of the police that parents and guardians should warn their children against swimming in rivers, dams, quarries and other restricted areas -especially in the absence of an adult.