Body of pupil who drowned during Kidd's Beach camping trip is found

The body of a 15-year-old girl who drowned near Kidd's Beach was found by emergency personnel.
The body of a 15-year-old girl who drowned near Kidd's Beach was found by emergency personnel.
Image: Paul Fleet/

The body of a 15-year-old girl was recovered on Friday after she was swept out to sea by a strong current at a Kidd’s Beach resort on Thursday, while swimming with her schoolmates during a camping trip.

Avethandwa Nokhangela, a Grade 10 pupil from Xolani High School in Zwelitsha, was on a camping trip organised by NGO Equal Education.

Nokhangela had left her home in high spirits on Tuesday as she was looking forward to the trip, said her emotional aunt Zanele Goda, who was at the scene when her body was recovered on Friday morning.

The National Sea Rescue Institute’s (NSRI) East London duty controller, Geoff McGregor, said their duty crew had been dispatched after receiving a report of a drowning in progress at 2.30pm on Thursday, offshore of Palm Springs holiday resort near East London.

McGregor said the teenager had been one of 30 pupils on an outing with an educational group.

He said the duty crew, a police diving unit and K-9 search and rescue teams had responded, but were unable to recover the teenager’s body on Thursday.

“On arrival at the scene, a search commenced for a 15-year-old female pupil reported to have gone missing in the surf line after being swept out to sea by rip currents while swimming with fellow pupils.

“Despite an extensive search there remains no sign of the missing teenager,” McGregor said on Thursday.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Capt Khaya Tonjeni said on Friday: “Early this morning the body washed up and was confirmed as the girl who drowned yesterday.” 

Minutes after police divers recovered her niece’s body, Goda said the family was traumatised by the tragic passing of their “sweet daughter who had so much potential in life”.

She said Nokhangela’s mother was too distraught to speak to the media.

“We are in pain as a family because the school and the department [of education] could have come to us and informed us formally of what happened.

“We were waiting for that on Thursday, so we really don’t know what happened.

“The mother of the child is traumatised and devastated because her child left the house alive and then this. 

“We don’t know how we are going to bury her, because her mother is unemployed. Hopefully, we’ll get some form of support,” she said.

Noncedo Madubedube, general secretary of Equal Education, said they were devastated by Nokhangela’s death and would support her family during this sad time.

“We are shocked and heartbroken by this loss.

“We will do whatever we can to support her family with respect and compassion for their deep pain and grief, and for their wishes and privacy,” said Madubedube.

“Counselling is being arranged as quickly as possible for her family, as well as for our members and staff.

“We remember her as a very kind and vibrant young activist.

“We are establishing an independent investigation into this tragic accident,” Madubedube said. 

Provincial education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima had not responded to questions by print deadline. 


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