By Anga Bushwana and ‘Odidi Matai-Sigudla
Police say a Makhanda man has drowned in a shallow pothole, but the man’s family dispute the story and wants a further investigation.
Early in the morning on 21 February, residents of Extension Six found an unknown person lying face down in a pool of water in the street. Police were immediately called and arrived 40 minutes later. The man was later identified as 36-year-old Poppy Thembani Mantawule of Lingelihle, who worked as a SASKO bakery truck driver.
Police spokesperson colonel Priscilla Naidu said, “It is alleged that he fell in a ditch (pothole) filled with water on the street. No foul play is suspected, and police have opened an inquest docket for investigation”.
Mantawule’s brother, Monwabisi Mantawule, says he was getting ready for work when he read about a man who had died in Extension Six. At the time, the deceased had not come home the previous night, and the worried Mantawule rushed to the scene only to discover that his brother had indeed died.
Though the police suspected no foul play, Mantawule’s cap and jacket were found more than 20 metres away from his body, and his shoes were missing.
“The way I see it, it is hard just to insinuate, as people are doing, that my brother was so drunk that he fell into a pothole and drowned,” said Mantawule.
“I believe there was a robbery involved. The water was too shallow to drown in; he could have just turned or lifted his head if he couldn’t breathe. It was not a dam or river but a pothole,” Mantawule added.
An anonymous witness says that he saw Mantawule’s body as he was preparing to leave for school. “His feet were pale, and his body was cold to the touch, a possibility that he had been lying there as a corpse for a few hours”, said the witness. The witness added that there was still R40 in Mantawule’s pocket.
Naidu could not shed any light on the mystery, only saying, “The investigation is ongoing as the police continue to work well with a few structured anti-crime neighbourhood watches. However, some groups are not aligned according to the structures”.
“All crime-fighting partners are profiled by police before working in partnership with SAPS Joza,” she said.