Durban – Relatives and friends of a 15-year-old boy presumed to have drowned at Port Shepstone beach, on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, were hoping to find his body.
Senzo Oscar Ntunja, a Grade 9 pupil, was playing soccer with six friends from Bhoyibhoyi, near Murchison, when they decided to board a taxi to go to the beach in Port Shepstone.
Three friends who tried to help Senzo were overpowered by a giant wave and shouted for help. There were no lifeguards on-site and bathing was still prohibited as per level 2 lockdown restrictions. The friends alerted police who walked along the beach searching for the teenager.
Senzo’s family have accused the police search and rescue team of not doing enough to find him.
Fiki Ntunja, his mother, spoke of her anguish and frustration. She said Senzo was supposed to fetch his sister Angel from Port Shepstone Primary School on the day he drowned.
She begged police to search along the coast to find the remains of her son.
“What I am asking for is a dedicated police team fully equipped with resources to be able to find my son,” she said.
The incident forced her to stop going to work, hoping the body would be discovered. She said her two daughters have also stopped going to school.
The family was keeping a round-the-clock vigil, hoping Senzo would be found. His mother said she had hoped her son would become a doctor.
“If it had been a high-profile person who had gone missing, you would have seen a helicopter and a boat hovering in this area,” she said.
But police have said they are still searching for the teenager.
Spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said: “The allegations levelled against the police are not true. Police officers from the Port Shepstone Search and Rescue conducted a search since the victim went missing. Daily patrols are also being conducted along the beach. The family members were also given an update.”
Zwe Ntunja said he was confused that after reporting the drowning incident on Wednesday there has not been a commitment from the police. He said he was not given a case number, the more he asked for progress from the police, the more frustrated he got.
“Nobody is prepared to share the progress of the investigation. Police have not acknowledged the incident. It seems like it was never recorded because when I ask I do not get a response,” he said.
When Senzo was drowning his teammates Mani Cele, Aphu Ngcobo and Lungelo Ntaba went in to rescue him.
“We tried to reach out to him but the wave was too strong. We lost sight of Senzo when we lost balance and control in the giant wave. We are fortunate to be still alive. The tragic moment of losing a friend will never be erased from our memory,” said Cele.