Dreams drowned: Aspiring pilot loses life in Kombat Mine’s abandoned water pit

FATAL POND … The pond in which the 16-year-old boy drowned next to the farm road. Photo: Contributed

The grieving father of a 16-year-old boy, Tjali Sindimba, who lost his life last month in a pit allegedly abandoned by Kombat Mine, says his son’s unfulfilled dreams of becoming a pilot have been tragically cut short.

He says Sindimba was poised to be the family’s breadwinner.

According to Frans Sindimba (40), despite Kombat Mine acknowledging the incident, they only provided a contribution of N$5 000.

“We were only given N$5 000 for the burial and that only catered for transport. I had to take a loan from the bank so that I could bury my son because the incident was unexpected.

They told us that they were going to sit down with us and talk after the funeral,” he says.

Sindima, describing his son as diligent and quiet, blames Kombat Mine for not securing the pits where they pump water and failing to consult the community about potential dangers.

The grieving father says the water pit, near a resettlement area where children often play soccer, is unsecured, unfenced and poses serious risks.

However, Kombat Mine’s management asserts that the incident occurred at a resettlement farm pond and not at their mine.

“He was my firstborn, a diligent student and a quiet boy. On that day, I really don’t know what happened. He always talked about wanting to be a pilot,” he says.

The father of three says his son’s final words were about bringing a USB to download movies.

However, he never returned.

“He was coming from school when they decided to play soccer near the water pit. He had promised me he would return home with a USB to download movies for us to watch, but he never returned.

“We are very much sad and it touches our hearts to lose our child in such a manner, where he lost his life. Behind is a resettlement area and there is a soccer field where he often goes to play soccer. When they started with the process of pumping the water, the community at large was not informed before the process began,” he says.

Canadian based Trigon operations vice president and Kombat Mine manager, Fanie Muller, has expressed his condolences to the family.

“The mine was made aware of the tragic event in which a young Namibian youth drowned in a resettlement farm pond situated three kilometres to the west of the mine and we have expressed our sincere condolences to the family.

“The mine has supported the Sindimba family in the same way the mine has supported other families in the past who have dealt with family tragedies.

“The dam where the unfortunate incident took place is a resettlement farm pond and not a dam into which the mine pumps water. The mine discharges water into the Neu Summerau Dam, which is situated one kilometre to the north of the resettlement farm pond where the drowning took place,” he says.

According to Muller, the resettlement farm pond is typically filled with water during the rainy season, even in the years prior to the commencement of dewatering by the mine.

“During heavy rains, the canal which feeds the Neu Summerau Dam sometimes overflows and some of that water does end up in the resettlement farm pond.

“The open canal which the mine uses is fully fenced and “no swimming” signs are posted along the canal and Neu Summerau Dam. The mine also recently installed lifebuoys at all water canals, ponds and dams and an awareness campaign was undertaken at the local schools and resettlement farms to educate the community about the potential dangers of swimming in ponds, dams and canals.”

Muller says the mine has played a vital role in assisting the community.

“The mine respects the environment, the community and all stakeholders. Through the mine’s corporate social responsibility programmes, it operates various initiatives aimed at assisting and uplifting the local community, which are sponsorships, local employment, a community garden, partnership with the local school, soup kitchens and assistance with maintaining certain critical infrastructure in the community and town,” he says.

The police station commander at Kombat, inspector Chris Gamirob, confirms that an investigation has been launched into the matter.

“Yes, I am aware of the incident that happened, a case of inquest was registered and we are currently investigating the matter,” he says.

Swapo councillor George Garab told The Namibian that he was aware of the unfortunate incident.

Garab requested that questions be sent to him, however, he did not respond by the time of goingto print.

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