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Illegal sand miners blamed for boy’s drowning

Illegal sand miners blamed for boy’s drowning

Niël Terblanché

RISING floodwater in the Kavango River that filled up the deep dongas left by sand miners on the flood plains claimed the life of the nine-year-old Ndara Werner Vihemba, a young boy from the Kayengona Village on Saturday.

 

The Crime Investigations Coordinator of the Namibian Police in the Kavango East Region, Deputy Commissioner Bob Kanyetu, confirmed the tragic death of Vihemba and said that the boy was on his way to the river with his aunt to go fishing for their dinner when the incident occurred.

 

A community activist who witnessed most of the tragedy shortly after lunchtime on Saturday, Patrick Shiyemo Kashera, said the child slipped and fell into the deep hole left unattended on the flood plain by sand miners.

 

“The child slipped on the muddy side of the deep hole and disappeared below the water. The youngster who is a Grade 4 learner at the Kayengona Combined School never came back up to the surface,” he said.

 

sand miners kavango river dongas flood
Picture for illustrative purposes only

 

According to Kashera the police were called to the scene of the tragedy and struggled for more than an hour and a half to retrieve the body of the drowned boy.

 

The activist said the tragedy would never have occurred if the business people rehabilitated the sand mines as they should.

 

“The problem is people just dig and collect sand anywhere and when they are done they leave the holes just like that without rehabilitating the area where they worked. During the flood season this hole fill up with river water and pose a danger to the communities living near them. This is not the first time a person has drowned in the area of Kayengona.”

 

Kashera said the community of Kayengona were furious when they heard the news of the drowning.

 

“As a community activist I once raised the issue with the leadership of the Sambyu Tribunal, but because I am not of the tribe, I was called Giriku, a foreigner in Sambyu land and that I did not have any say on the matter. The old men are selling those pieces of land for their own selfish gain and do not care about the matter at hand or the impact thereafter.”

 

Kashera said the sand miners must be forced to refill the holes or rehabilitate the area and that the operators responsible must be held responsible for the funeral costs of the little boy that drowned in one of their mining holes.

 

In the meantime the Namibian Police in the Kavango East Region has registered an inquest into the tragic death of the nine-year-old boy after the body was retrieved from the water.