The mother of a five-year-old boy who allegedly fell into an abandoned mineshaft, on the East Rand, says she wants the body of her child back “dead or alive”.
Despite calling off the rescue mission of the boy – who was last seen on Saturday – Richard Thole’s mother said she’s certain her child will come back to her.
Recounting her ordeal from her shack at the Jerusalem informal settlement in Witfield‚ Boksburg‚ Thole said her son fell into the shaft after he went out to play with another five-year-old.
She explained that her child usually plays close to their home but that Saturday was the first time he walked close to the shaft – which is about 200 meters away from home.
According to the distraught mother of three, Richard was an active, a lovable and her only son. Thole said she now finds it difficult to sleep at night.
“I can’t sleep at night just thinking about where my child is now. He is all alone in there. I can’t cope because it’s hurting to think my child is dead. I just want his body so that we can bury him‚” she added.
BuzzSouthAfrica understands that the search for the boy was called off on Monday after a member of the mine rescue team became unconscious after going down the disused mine shaft. Two cameras sent down the shaft by rescue teams on Sunday were also destroyed.
Emergency services explained that a subsequent investigation showed there’s gas in the shaft which makes it difficult for rescuers to breath.
— Eyewitness News (@ewnupdates) February 27, 2017
But Ekurhuleni’s MMC for Community Safety Vivian Chauke assured everyone that they are working hard to ascertain if there are any other shafts they could enter in an effort to reach the boy.
The boy reportedly fell into the hole sometime between 12:00 and 13:00 on Saturday.
On Monday afternoon, locals flocked to the shaft after an unsuccessful search on Sunday. They stood near the shaft, watching and waiting for any news. Some sang gospel songs, while others looked on with dismay.
A group of men believed to be illegal miners offered to go down the mine to rescue the boy but were held back by Metro police.
Meanwhile, reports have it that the search resumes at dawn on Tuesday.