Search con­tin­ues for miss­ing girls

Lesotho Times - - News - Lim­pho Sello

THE search con­tin­ues for two ‘Maserib­ane High School stu­dents who are be­lieved to have drowned while swim­ming in Senqu River on Sun­day.

Since Mon­day, res­cue teams have been search­ing for the miss­ing girl. The two were Form C stu­dents aged 15 and 16 and board­ers at the Mount Moorosi-based school.

‘Maserib­ane High School Prin­ci­pal Dr Ra­matla Varkey yes­ter­day said the learn­ers were among 17 stu­dents who sneaked out of the school and went for a swim in the flooded river.

“They went there to play and en­ter­tain them­selves and that’s when this tragic in­ci­dent oc­curred. No­body knew there was this very deep place in the river and they went there at a time Senqu was flow­ing fast due to the re­cent rains,” Dr Varkey said.

“It was only af­ter this in­ci­dent that we re­al­ized that our stu­dents some­times go there to swim with­out the au­thor­ity of the ma­tron.”

A team of divers from Maseru went to the river on Mon­day to as­sist in the search but they still had not re­cov­ered the bod­ies by yes­ter­day.

“We are still look­ing for them and the lo­cal com­mu­nity is also help­ing in the search. The po­lice also came with their div­ing res­cue team but it’s been ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to find them be­cause of the rain ex­pe­ri­enced over the past two days,” Dr Varkey said.

Po­lice spokesper­son Clifford Molefe yes­ter­day said the search for the miss­ing girls was con­tin­u­ing.

“Our res­cue team went there on Mon­day to as­sist with the search for the miss­ing girls,” Se­nior In- spec­tor Molefe said.

Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Deputy Min­is­ter Tha­bang Kholumo who trav­elled to Mount Moorosi yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times he vis­ited the area to find out what re­ally hap­pened.

Mr Kholumo said he had also vis­ited the po­lice sta­tion to in­quire about the progress of res­cue ef­forts.

“It was very sad when we had to re­turn to our homes know­ing that there are chil­dren’s bod­ies stuck in there. The bod­ies need to be re­cov­ered and buried so that the school, par­ents and com­mu­nity can put this in­ci­dent be­hind them and move on,” Mr Kholumo said.

“This is­sue is very com­pli­cated since these girls left the school with­out per­mis­sion. We sat down with the 15 girls to ask them what ex­actly tran­spired and we also coun­selled them be­cause they wit­nessed some­thing very trau­matic.

“I also found out that out of the 17 girls, only five girls knew how to swim and the oth­ers went there to watch the oth­ers swim but they ended up join­ing them.”

Dr Varkey said the fam­i­lies of the miss­ing girls were in shock af­ter be­ing in­formed of the in­ci­dent. She also said the school sus­pended classes on Mon­day as a re­sult of the in­ci­dent.

“As a school, we are still in shock so much that we had to sus­pend classes for the whole day on Mon­day. Learn­ing must con­tinue although we are af­fected by the sit­u­a­tion. This is a very painful ex­pe­ri­ence es­pe­cially for the girls who were to­gether with their miss­ing school­mates. We talked to them about the sit­u­a­tion and the con­se­quences of not fol­low­ing school reg­u­la­tions be­cause we be­lieve if they hadn’t sneaked out, this would not have hap­pened,” she said.

Ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing deputy Min­is­ter tha­bang Kholumo.

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