Athlone residents are protesting the disappearance of an eight-year-old girl who fell into a canal near the Vygieskraal informal settlement in Athlone on Thursday, July 9. They believe the City is not acting urgently enough to find the child.
According to Cape Flats Stories, the name of the missing girl is Abieda Paulse. The man who tried to save her is reportedly named Yusuf.
Cape Flats Stories went live on July 12 to show parts of the protests that took place on Klipfontein Road. Police were also on the scene. Residents addressed Ward 48 councillor Magadien Davids to voice their concerns over the canal and the lack of action and urgency in finding Paulse and Yusuf.
Many criticised the City for not putting up railings around the canals, which residents describe as incredibly dangerous. They believe government is not doing enough to look after the community. They also say during the livestream that many of the children are scared and traumatised following the event.
In the livestream, Davids promises to bring representatives from Social Development into the area to provide residents with counselling.
The community are protesting so that the search for Abieda’s body can continue
Search and rescue efforts for Paulse and Yusuf have been suspended until further notice. There are currently no updates on when the search will resume. Many community members have taken it into their own hands to search for the girl.
Fire and Rescue Service’s Jermaine Carelse said on Friday [July 10], “The City’s Fire & Rescue Dive unit from Roeland Street Fire and SAPS divers met up at the sewerage plant and have searched the area up to the Black River, near Berkley Road on Friday. The search was suspended at 1pm. The divers stopped their search opposite the intersection of Black river Parkway and Berkley Road due the thick undergrowth in the river.”