BCM to probe death of teen boy at Joan Harrison

Buffalo City Metro is investigating the death of a 14-year-old boy by drowning in the Joan Harrison public pool on Saturday.

A 14-year-old boy drowned in the Joan Harrison pools on Saturday

The teen, Nhlanhla Gcokwe from Haven Hills, Amalinda, died in hospital after he was pulled from the bottom of one a pool in the complex.

Family friend Coceka Mgudlwa said she had dropped off Nhlanhla with four of his friends at Joan Harrison on Saturday.

The boys went regularly to swim there, she added.

Mgudlwa said she was told by her son, who was also at the pools, that Nhlanhla had been swimming in a “very deep pool” and had spent about 15 minutes underwater before he was pulled out.

“My son said he spent close to 15 minutes running around looking for help before he found lifeguards,” said Mgudlwa.

She said an emergency team tried to resuscitate Nhlanhla before he was taken by ambulance to Frere hospital.

Frere referred them to the intensive care unit at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital but the teen’s family took him to East London Private hospital, where he died hours later.

According to Dynamic Emergency spokeswoman Melissa McCarthy, the boy was last seen swimming when he suddenly started drowning.

Dynamic, who were on the scene, rushed to help, and he was later taken by an Alderson ambulance to the hospital.

“He was swimming and he seemed to be in a bit of trouble. We were on the scene and we assisted. Emergency teams performed CPR on him and he was later taken to hospital as a critical patient,” said McCarthy.

BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi confirmed that BCM had received a report that a boy drowned at the weekend at one of its swimming pools.

Cindi said BCM was still investigating the matter to get the facts as to what really happened.

He said BCM wished not to comment fully on the matter, to avoid “pre-empting” the outcome of the investigation.

“BCM would like to send out our condolences to the family.

“BCM is really sorry for the loss of this child and we hope that the family may find the strength they need to get through this terrible experience.

“We expect the investigation to indicate to us who was liable for this incident, to find out if the incident could have been prevented and whether there was negligence – and if there was then who by and in what way,” said Cindi. — qaqambam@dispatch.co.za


  1. this comes as no surprise…the Joan Harrison is totally neglected. The pools are green and no doubt High levels of Ecoli. The swim competitons that are held there are a farce, none of the electronics work…The lifesavers are nowhere to be found ever…People smoke in the change rooms/toilets! It’s a disgusting place…typical BCM uselessness…

  2. I worked at the the Joan Harrison for 2yrs as a supervisor. In my time there I made sure there were always lifeguards on duty and no lifeguard had a break until he was releived by another lifeguard or myself. We only had 2 lifeguards employed then and never had a drowning. Now I beleive there are 4 or more lifeguards employed. Basic fitness tests for the lifeguards has dropped and so has the ethics of their roles. Supervisors and higher management have failed their tasks . As in the case Of Mr Vicki Sing the previous manager who stole money and allowed for rot to start has now set the mould that is the result of this tragic loss.

  3. I feel the lifeguards should be held responsible for this!! Why were they not at their posts?? Where were they that it took those kids 15 minutes to find a them?!? Again it’s just a job not a dedication anymore. Thanks to negligence and not a care, a young boys life is over.

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