Three Limpopo boys – 8-year-old Machaba Ramabala, 9-year-old Itumeleng Ramabala, and their friend 7-year-old Pabalelo Mokgethwa – passed away this weekend when they drowned in an abandoned mine hole.
The Ramabala boys were siblings. Their aunt, Sister Phasha, believes that there is a chance the boys could have been pushed. She told Sowetan Live:
“Their clothes were found on top of the hole, and one will have to walk around it to access the entry point because it is deep. We don’t believe they jumped voluntarily and we hope the police will investigate the matter thoroughly,” Phasha said.
She added that it “was within two hours after they had left that we decided to go out and look for them.” The family began the search at around 13:00. They searched the bushes and called for the boys but there was no response.
“As the search continued, we discovered their clothes next to the hole but there was no sign of them.”
When it became clear that something was definitely wrong, the family contacted the police who made the horrible discovery.
“They know we don’t want them to go out for long, let alone to swim. At that time we thought they were hiding after hearing our voices. We called the police in the afternoon who then discovered the dead bodies,” she said.
The family are still trying to come to terms with their tragic loss.
“Why would the drowning and death start with our children when the hole has been there for many years now?”
The police have started an inquest into the events leading to the death of the three children, as reported by Polokwane Review. However, they have not made a statement on whether there is a suspicion of foul play.
Police spokesperson Capt Mmaphaswa Seabi said: “The parents became suspicious when the children did not return and were nowhere to be found. They searched in the area and proceeded to the illegal mine hole which was filled with water due to recent rains.”
They were met by the sight of their children’s clothes next to the dam, and Seabi said at that point they anticipated that “the worst might have happened.”
“The three bodies were later retrieved from the water after a police search. All deceased are from Phashaskraal village.”