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Life goes on at Cuddle Puddle

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EZULWINI – Management of Cuddle Puddle, Swaziland’s popular hot springs, says there is no electric power running within their swimming pool.

A senior employee, who only preferred to be identified as Thuli and current acting manager of the establishment, told the Times SUNDAY that the only electricity in the vicinity of the establishment is connected to lamps for lighting up the area at night.

They are at a safe distance.

"There are no electric cables or wires in the pool," she emphasised.

She said even though visitors to Cuddle Puddle had been reduced considerably, after last week’s reports about the electrocution incident, the few who still come are those who probably understand that the pool is safe.

Reporters from this newspaper visited the establishment on Thursday and Friday and indeed, the swimming pool only had a few people.

There were about eight children swimming under the instruction of a coach.

Thuli then clarified that the recent electrocution incident could not have happened inside the pool.

Instead, she says, it happened at a smaller natural hot spring that is a few metres from the main gate leading to the spa buildings and main pool. This is the hot spring which is free of charge and its visitors mainly go there to bathe.

Kiki Jonathan (21) lost his life after he had entered this pool and got electrocuted.

Two of his friends who had accompanied him are said to have watched helplessly in shock while the incident took place.

Jonathan had jumped in ahead of them.

"There were warnings for members of the public who went to bathe in this pool that there was an electricity problem. The main swimming pool draws hot water from the natural spring through a pump," said Thuli.

She added that a day after this incident the owner of Cuddle Puddle, Horst Saylor, waited for the family of the deceased to contact him but no one came.

She suggested that Saylor must have wanted to talk to them.

Thuli says the owner even wanted to go to Ezulwini Royal Kraal in a bid to locate the family of the deceased.

She mentioned that the day of the incident was a day before the owner’s pre-arranged trip to Germany, his home country.

"We expect him to be back in the country by tomorrow."

"News about the electrocution has affected us though. People are calling to ask how safe it is and many are staying away because they are scared. There is hardly any business now," she said.

Thuli added that those who still come to the establishment’s main swimming pool do so because they know the truth.

Meanwhile, last Friday in the afternoon, the Times SUNDAY paid another visit to the Cuddle Puddle and this time there were only two children in the main pool.

However, there were about 10 men bathing in the natural hot-spring outside the gate.

Although they declined to be named in the newspaper, they confirmed that the incident occurred where they were bathing.

"We are not frightened because the electricity problem was fixed. There was a bare electric wire connected to the metal pipe that draws the water from the spring to the pool," said one of the men.

He, however, said it was not true that there was a visible warning to bathers about an electricity problem in the spring.

"I come here every day and I’ve never seen or heard about this warning management is talking about," he added.

Meanwhile, reports early last week stated that Wendy Shongwe, Jonathan’s mother, was distraught at her son’s demise, more so because, she alleged, she was not assisted in anyway by the Cuddle Puddle management regarding funeral arrangements. She alleged in an interview that she was left on her own to bury him. The Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) was reported to have revealed that a bare electric wire was the cause of the electrocution.

However, the company dissociated itself from the electrocution.

"We would like to point out that SEC is responsible for the supply of electricity from its sources to the customer’s meter. Reticulation beyond the meter is the customer’s responsibility. In this case, the electrocution by the deceased happened beyond SEC’s jurisdiction," an officer from SEC was quoted as having said.

SEC has advised property owners to regularly inspect their electricity cabling to ensure it was still in good order.

Jonathan, according to his mother, worked as a budding mechanic at a garage owned by Abu Mohamed in Ezulwini.

"Only Mohamed offered to help me. He bought a coffin and paid for morgue storage fees. My child was eventually buried at Sidvwashini cemetery," Shongwe was quoted.

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