Alex Japho Matlala
3 minute read
18 Jan 2019
6:15 am

Help us find our missing – or dead – children, families plead

Alex Japho Matlala

They are pleading with the South African government to help them get to Mozambique and help in the search for their children.

File image/Twitter

The families of four youngsters who have gone missing after they went swimming in the sea at Mozambique this week are pleading for financial assistance to help police trace their children or worse, locate their bodies.

They told The Citizen yesterday that the children were part of a group of eight. They left Limpopo on January 12 to celebrate the birthday of one of their friends at the Mozambican coast.

During a trip to Portuguese Island, four of them were overpowered by a sea wave and went missing and are yet to be confirmed dead.

The other four were rescued with the help of the Mozambican officials.

The four missing are Tjolo David Kaise, Mahlogonolo Mmatholo, Lesego Motsepe, and Gregory Mfune. The two females – Mmatholo and Matsepe – are from Groblersdal and Kaise and Mfune are from Secunda and Bloemfontein respectively.

The surviving four are Vincent Rammupudu, Lesedi Mmotong, Basetsana Mogafe, and Lefentse Mampuru from Tafelkop and Groblersdal.

“We are swimming in a pool of frustration, panic and disillusion since we received the bad news,” said Nico Motsepe, the father of Lesego.

“We have decided to go to Mozambique to help locate our children or worse, their bodies. But we are unable because we do not have money for travelling and for hiring a private helicopter.

“We have tried to get a service provider of a helicopter to help us search for the missing children. The service provider we found said he was charging R14 000 for an hour,” he added.

Motsepe said the families do not have the money at this stage since they spent their savings during the festive season and this year for back-to-school goodies.

He said they were pleading with the South African government to help them get to Mozambique and help in the search for their children.

“We are forced to book the helicopter now or else we will not get closure to the problem. We want to be there when they are found or else we will know no peace in our lives.”

Another parent, Jaykay Mogafe, whose last-born daughter Basetsana survived the ordeal, said he was relieved she had survived.

“But I am sharing the same pain as the other parents because the death of one child is one too many,” said Mogafe. “We only hope Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha and President Cyril Ramaphosa open their hearts and their wallets to help us to find our children.

“We have just received information the police have now retrieved the body of another child who was reported missing. We only hope all the other children, or bodies, are recovered.”

Mathabatha said he was taken aback by the incident and sent his deepest condolences and sympathy to the families who lost their children and whose children are still missing.

“We wish to thank the South African Embassy, the Mozambican authorities and the navy for their immediate response in rescuing the four and the continued search of the other four,” said the premier.

Mathabatha has so far deployed Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality mayor Julia Mathebe and her municipal manager to Mozambique to lend a hand of support to the families already there.

alexm@citizen.co.za

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