Nine drown in East Cape’s canal of death

Mkhuseli Sizani

The Sunday’s River Valley Municipality and police are warning residents and kids to stay away from the fast flowing irrigation canal where more than nine people have drowned this year alone.

The canal is used by citrus farmers between Addo and Kirkwood. But residents are breaking the fence to cross the canal while children jump the fence to go swimming.

In 2019, eight people, mostly children, drowned in the canal of death with nine more drowning this year.

Scrolla.Africa found young people in Moses Mabhida township in Kirkwood climbing over the fence to go and swim. 

“I have been swimming here for more than 10 years. There is no beach or swimming pool here and it’s very hot,” said 29-year-old Sinnie Ensil. 

“The current is very strong but we are experienced. Young boys also come and swim with us and no one has drowned in our presence.” 

He said stories about drownings don’t scare them.

“We will stop swimming in the canal if we get a swimming pool or a dam,” he said. 

Mayor Nombulelo Bixa said the focus is now on Covid-19 and not on opening public places. 

“The canals were fenced but community members stole the fencing. The Department of Water and Sanitation is in the process of getting funding to fence the canals again,” she said. 

“Opening up spaces where people can gather in groups will defeat the efforts of the government in the fight against the virus. We will not open our public swimming pool this year.” 

Sergeant Majola Nkohli said: “This year nine people drowned. Most victims were children, who were swimming. The rest were adults who are believed to have attempted to cross the canal while under the influence of alcohol. Police are appealing to residents to stay away from the canal, and also to warn children not to swim in the canal.”