Maverick Citizen


‘They took my son from me through a hole they did not close’ – Khayalethu Magadla’s grieving mom

‘They took my son from me through a hole they did not close’ – Khayalethu Magadla’s grieving mom
A memorial service of Khayalethu Magadla who fell into a manhole while playing with friends in Soweto in June. (Photo:Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick)

Parents of the six-year-old boy who fell into an open manhole accuse the City of Johannesburg of only attending to the problem in their community after their tragedy. 

Khayalethu Magadla was a model son, said Kholekile Magadla in his eulogy for his second-born child at his memorial on Friday, 8 July.

As mourners made their way to the now-closed manhole into which six-year-old Khayalethu Magadla disappeared more than three weeks ago, they sang Baba kulungile makuyintando yakho [It is well Father, if it’s your will Almighty)

The sombre moment at the start of the memorial service was accompanied by tears from family, friends and Soweto community members.

Kholekile Magadla, Khayalethu’s father, told hundreds of mourners at the memorial service in Dlamini, Soweto: “The city of Johannesburg has hurt me with their negligence which has claimed my son’s life… and they had the audacity to come with a bag of potatoes and cabbages to offer me and my family before we could even find my son. 

“On the very same day, they came to start the search for my son, Joburg Water closed the manhole which had been open for two years. And that hurt a lot… It took my son’s life for a service to be [delivered]”.

“I had to ask for donations from people and local businesses. I have been assisted by the community and I have not received any kind of help from the City of Joburg or Johannesburg Water,” Magadla added.

During the first part of the ceremony, 20 white doves were released. 

The second part of the programme took place inside a white marquee at the park. Among the community members in attendance at the memorial were acting City of Joburg Mayor Ronald Harris, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba and Soweto Parliament’s Nhlanhla “Lux” Dlamini, Khayalethu’s schoolmates, Joburg Emergency Services and Disaster Management.

Herman Mashaba and Bongani Baloyi at the memorial service of Khayalethu Magadla. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick)

Khayalethu’s body was retrieved at noon on Saturday, 2 July in a split chamber near the water treatment plant in Eldorado Park. He was last seen playing with friends in a park on 12 June.

“Today, we are here to say goodbye to our son Khayalethu with heavy hearts. But again today we want to plead with our city and with our government for better services. We need a better well-maintained park in Dlamini and this exact park named Khayalethu Magadla Memorial Park,” said Zakhele Khumalo, a community member of Dlamini, Soweto in his eulogy.

Mourners heard that Khayalethu was a bright pupil who was a natural leader. “He helped others learn how to read and count. He was one of the two kids who would come in early every morning, waiting for their teacher to open for them. Khaya would take the keys and after everyone had arrived, he would put them on the teacher’s desk,” said one of his teachers, who was identified only as Mthethwa.

Nolwando Ngxanga at the memorial service of her son Khayalethu Magadla, who fell into a manhole while playing with friends in Soweto in June. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick)

Nolwando Ngxanga, Khayalethu’s mother, described him as a gentle soul and a popular child. 

“I am not surprised by the many people who have come out to say their goodbyes to our son… He was a people person: loved and cherished by many in our community. He filled our hearts and our home with so much joy and laughter. The house is empty without him… we are empty without him. It is hard to cope without him but we are all trying our best,” said Ngxanga.

“The municipality has abused me, they took my son… from me through a hole they did not close. I have cried for the past two weeks, and now I am done and ready to fight. Lala ngoxolo mtanami [sleep well baby].”

Responding to Magadla’s claims that the City of Johannesburg did not help the family to pay for the memorial and funeral, which is still to be held in the Eastern Cape, Mabine Seabe, spokesperson for the mayor said they provided groceries to the family in the past three weeks and were still finalising other donations. “Unfortunately, the City’s policies do not allow us to assist with [a] burial taking place outside the jurisdiction of the city.”

Khayalethu Magadla was born in Lesedi Hospital, Soweto on 20 June 2016. He had two brothers. He will be buried in a private ceremony in the Eastern Cape. 

His family are calling for donations to help pay for the costs of the memorial and funeral. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Was the manhole cover stolen by any chance? If so then blame government corruption and poor law enforcement, not the city – replaced ones simply get stolen again.

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    Maybe, just maybe the hole was once covered (By the municipality), but members of the community stole or vandalised the cover. And most certainly some person in that community knows who done it.
    This reality does not take away from the sorry state of maintenance and repair of almost anything that the anc had been in charge of since ruling the country. I feel really sorry for the parents and the community for their loss.

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