9 days after falling in manhole, Khaya Magadla’s family still hope to find body

Although he has had to make the difficult admission that his son is no longer alive, Kholikile Magadla has made an impassioned plea to rescue personnel and technicians searching for his six-year-old son not to give up.

Residents of Dlamini, in Soweto, gathered outside the home of missing Khaya Magadla were his peers sang happy birthday on what would have been his sixth birthday. Picture: Masechaba Sefularo/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A day after celebrating his birthday without him, Khayalethu Magadla’s family are still holding on to the hope that rescue teams will find his body nine days after he fell into an exposed manhole.

Not so much as a piece of his clothing has been found, as the search for the six-year-old continues over an estimated 13 kilometres of the sewer system between Dlamini and Eldorado Park.

Last week, Joburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse visited the family and promised that the search for Magadla would not stop until he was found.

Although he has had to make the difficult admission that his son is no longer alive, Kholikile Magadla has made an impassioned plea to rescue personnel and technicians searching for his six-year-old son not to give up.

He said that he’d witnessed the challenges the team had come across, such as blockages along the pipelines, where the child could be trapped.

"The only thing I ask is that we don’t rest until the child is found. I am always there when they search, each day and every night. I can see that they are trying their best," he said.

Magadla said that he battled to sleep at night, sometimes feeling helpless.

"It feels like I am inside a bottle, like I am going to be woken up and told to go to work. I am praying to find my child," he said.

Magadla has remembered his son as a mischievous but sweet child who was loved by all. He said that he wishes he could extend the psychosocial support his family has been receiving to the children in the neighbourhood, who he said battled to look him in the eye, as he stands at the park where Khaya was last seen alive.