South Africa: Govt Offers Legal Aid to Family of Boy, 6, Who Fell Into Manhole

Photo: Supplied
The trench that was left incomplete at the Giyani Bulk Water Project.

A government task team will help the family of a six-year-old child, who fell into a manhole chamber left open in Giyani, Limpopo, if they want to take legal action.

According to a Department of Water and Sanitation statement, the multi-governmental task team has been established to support the family of Nsuku Mhlongo, who died on Saturday.

Mhlongo fell into the manhole, which was left incomplete after engineering works on the Giyani Bulk Water Project.

Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said construction and engineering company Khato Civils left the manhole chamber open.

Ratau said the task team, led by Mopani District Municipality Mayor Nkakareng Rakgoale, and which includes officials from the Department of Water and Sanitation, visited the Mhlongo family on Monday.

"Whilst visiting the family yesterday (Monday), the task team decided to conduct an assessment of all open trenches in the area and to immediately close uncovered pits to prevent more fatalities," Ratau said in a statement.

Government to provide support

In addition, government representatives also committed themselves, not to only assist the family with funeral arrangements, but also lend a helping hand should the family decide to take legal action against Khato Civils.

"The government regrets the incident and offers its deepest condolences to the Mhlongo family on the untimely passing of their young one."

The department will also be dispatching its construction unit engineers to go on site to ensure that the Giyani Intervention Water Project is completed as a matter of urgency.

"The Giyani Intervention Water Project has been under implementation since August 2014 and has to date delivered approximately 92% of the original scope of work."

"There is currently a very high risk that some of the achieved project outputs are likely to be lost due to vandalism of incomplete work or loss of materials on site. The Phase 1 of Giyani needs approximately R420m to make the infrastructure functional."

Khato Civils to co-operate with authorities

News24 previously reported that Khato Holdings group CEO Mongezi Mnyani said in a statement that Mhlongo's death was "tragic and regrettable."

The company dispatched its own team to investigate the incident.

"Our team is also working round the clock in conjunction with the Mopani District Municipality to find out what happened and prevent a recurrence of [a] similar incident in future," said Mnyani.

He added that they were also trying to find out the truth because they pulled out of the site in September due to non-payment by the employer.

"Therefore, for four months to date, there has been no activities on site and no maintenance and safeguarding of the pipelines."

Mnyani said that the company would fully co-operate with authorities during the probe.

Source: News24

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