Sunday, October 25, 2020

Quarry and pit from hell swallows children

A disused quarry together with an adjacent water drainage pit associated with it in Mogoditshane Block 5 have become a death trap for children – thanks to the ineptitude of the Department of Mines. 

In the last 12 months the monster chasms have claimed the lives of  two children. One died in a water filled pit and the other in a quarry while playing in the vicinity of the dangerous terrain.In the latest incident a 12-year-old boy Mothusi Gabobofane, a pupil at Mogoditshane Primary School, drowned in an unfenced pit in the proximity of a disused quarry.The Department of Mines would not respond to Sunday Standard enquiries saying the Public Relations Officer was on Christmas vacation.

Following the Sunday Standard query, Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Lefoko Moagi, dispatched officials to the site.

“There are obligations even if the license expired to ensure rehabilitation of the land and its safety thereof. The child did not drown in the quarry but the pit near the quarry”, Moagi said.“Our investigations have revealed that the quarry and the area around it are in private ownership. We are still in touch with the Mogoditsane Sub-Land board to identify the new owner. We will contact Quarries of Botswana regarding their obligation. We’re also in dialogue with the area’s MP and councilor as well as the headman to address this issue”, Moagi added.

It was not possible to get comment from Quarries Botswana by the time of going to press.Senior Superintendent Agreement Mapeu, Officer Command of District 13 confirmed the incident.Mothusi’s friend identified only by his nickname Papi took off, petrified, in a bid to get help leaving him struggling in the water. No help was found swift enough to save his life. His body was recovered from the pool of water by a villager whilst waiting arrival of the Police and medical assistance.Immobilized by fear, residents stood helpless around the still body. His mother, Naledi Gabobofane could not believe her eyes as she jostled through the crowd with trembling steps. Her son’s body lay motionless on the ground.“The investigations are ongoing to determine the cause of death”, Mapeu told The Sunday Standard.

A distraught Uncle, Boikanyo Motshidisi pieced together an account of Mothusi’s last moments:“Mothusi went to church with his mother and sister on Sunday. Later on, they asked for permission to return home so they could watch wrestling on TV. His friend Papi came over and asked that they go play. Papi narrates that they went to play on a nearby pit full of water. It is there that my nephew met his demise. Papi says Mothusi slipped and fell into the body of water. Realizing that all his efforts to save his friend proved futile, he sought help. But it was too late as his body was recovered lifeless,” said the uncle.

A standard 6 pupil of Nkoyaphiri Primary school in 2019 was reported to have drowned in the pit. Upon recovery, he was certified dead.Some residents of Mogoditsane Block 5 say incidents of drowning in the pit and the quarry are five in total including the latest incident.Nkoyaphiri Central Councillor, Bakang Matlho cited growing concern from residents and over the fatal quarry and pit.

“Since being elected councilor, I know of two cases of drowning which have been reported. A standard 6 boy died in the quarry in 2019 after drowning whilst swimming with friends. While the latest casualty, Mothusi, died in the pit full of water near the quarry”, Matlho stated.

Minister Moagi says his ministry has launched an investigation into the matter. The minister revealed that the pit and quarry was licensed to Quarries of Botswana for a period of two years between 2002 and 2004.The company upon expiration of the license, as per procedure, fenced off the area around the quarry for safety precautions. However, the fence has since dilapidated as a result of either vandalism or natural causes, rendering the quarry and areas around it unsafe.Sources have revealed that the pit in which Mothusi died, was an excavation made for purposes of draining water from the quarry by water pumps in the event the quarry was flooded.The Member of Parliament (MP) for the area Tumiso Rakgare visited both sites on Thursday accompanied by the village headman and councilor.

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