Family of Imthande Swartbooi (2) say his drowning in open drain was avoidable

Nkosikhona Swaartbooi, Imthande's uncle, told Eyewitness News that about two weeks ago, residents rescued a child who had fallen into the same drain.

Imthande Swartbooi. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - A relative of two-year-old Imthande Swartbooi, who drowned after falling into an open sewerage drain in Khayelitsha, said that his family were angry as this could have been avoided.

The toddler was playing with his cousins outside their family home in Greenpoint on Sunday when tragedy struck.

Nkosikhona Swaartbooi told Eyewitness News that about two weeks ago, residents rescued a child who had fallen into the same drain.

Swaartbooi said that his grandmother had fallen ill and had to seek treatment at a local hospital following following little Imthande's death.

"I'm very emotional because it's still fresh, it's affecting us a lot. We are traumatised. We don't know how to process this trauma."

Swartbooi has described the two-year-old boy as a loving, playful child.

"A very quiet child... the thing that comes to mind is his beautiful smile. He was loved by both his mum and dad's families."

Swartbooi said that residents had over the past few weeks been pleading with the City of Cape Town to replace the cover of the drain that Imthande had fallen into but said that their requests were ignored and workers were only sent to the area to replace the drain cover after the child's death.

The City of Cape Town's Xanthea Limberg said that she and Mayor Dan Plato had visited the family

"Mayor Plato and I met with the family of Imthande Swartbooi. We went to personally convey our condolences on the very tragic passing of the two-year-old. The mayor indicated assistance with burial costs is available to the family as well as counselling."

Swartbooi said that the family would hold officials to their promises.

"What we've asked of the mayor is the speedy response to the sanitation issue in black African townships. The second immediate issue was for counselling. The third one was the issue of compensation - we will hold them to account with regards to the trauma and the suffering that our family is experiencing now as a result of their negligence."

Limberg said that each month, on average, 300 drain covers needed to be replaced across the metro.

"The city replaces broken and stolen cast iron manhole covers with ones made of polymer plastic as the material has little to no scrap value. However, this has not proven a sufficient deterrent as these too are often removed. Mayor Plato condemned the theft and vandalism of city infrastructure."

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