EMOTIONS ran high as families and friends gathered to remember the six children who drowned in the Mgxojeni River. Sinekhaya Mfolozi (7) Sixolile Ndleleni (7), Elomso Ntsimbi (8), Hlalanathi Mbuleka (6), Boitumelo Lebenya (8) and Masixole Molekoa (6) drowned in the river between Freyistata and Popopo villages in Matateile.Nogcinile Magadla spoke on behalf of the families at the memorial service held at Popopo Primary School on Thursday.“At least we found their bodies,” said Nogcinile.She said she usually helped the children to cross the river but by the time she realised it was raining and rushed to the river some children had already drowned. Qhayiya Molekoa (9) said he tried to rescue his brother, Masixole, and held on to him.“But the water was too strong and he slipped away,” he said.School principal Karabo Hantsi said the pupils are too scared to cross the river. “We are still devastated. The pupils are still crying,” said Hantsi.He asked government to speed up the building of a bridge.“Children as young as six have to walk 8,4km to school,” he said.Chief Khomotsoana Lebenya said his village has been ignored because of demarcation issues. “We want government to bring services to the village.”Matatiele mayor Momelezi Mbedla said parents must know that it is not only Popopo that has a problem.“We are dealing with a service delivery backlog. The contractors are waiting for materials to build the bridge,” he said.Eastern Cape Education MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said they will provide transport until the bridge is built.
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