Police in Mecklenburg, Limpopo, have opened an inquest case after three children drowned in an abandoned illegal mine on Sunday.
The three boys, aged between 7 and 9, had been playing in the area at around 10:00 in the morning, police spokesperson Captain Mamphaswa Seabi said.
"The parents became suspicious when, at about 17:00, the children had not returned and were nowhere to be found.
"They searched the area and proceeded to the illegal mine hole which was filled with water due to the recent rains that fell in the area.
"On arrival, they were met by the sight of their children's clothes next to the 'dam' and started anticipating that the worst might have happened," Seabi said.
The matter was reported to the local police and members from the provincial search-and-rescue and the K9 Unit were summoned to the scene.
The three bodies were later retrieved from the water.
They have been identified as the Ramabala siblings, Machaba, 8, and Itumeleng, 9, as well as their friend, Pabalelo Mokgethwa, 7.
The siblings were Grade 4 learners at Ramoko Primary School and their friend was a Grade 2 learner at Mmalegaswi Primary School.
All deceased are from Phashaskraal village outside Burgersfort.
Separate child drowning
In a separate incident earlier this week, an 11-year-old boy's lifeless body was recovered from Revhumbwe River in Malamulela policing area, Giyani Cluster, Seabi said.
"The provincial commissioner of the SAPS in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba, is concerned about the loss of these young lives and has urged parents to look after their children and strongly caution them against swimming in water filled holes."
The general warned communities to "desist from engaging in illegal mining by digging up holes and leaving them unclosed as this poses a hazardous environment to people, especially children".