The city of Tshwane is set to take legal action against external contractor working on a housing project after a fourth boy drowned in Hammanskraal, in a trench that was dug.

Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams announced on Monday that another boy had drowned in the township, this time in Extension 10, Ward 49.

On Saturday afternoon, three boys – two 10-year-olds and one nine-year-old – were found dead in an under-construction storm water trench in Tambo Extension 1, near the traffic department in Hammanskraal.

The mayor said an investigation into the tragedy was under way, but engagements with the local community indicate that the storm on Friday blew some barricades into the site, which the young boys were then using to swim and play within the trench.

It is believed the children drowned.

Just two days later, tragedy struck again as two young boys, sent out to do shopping, fell into a trench.

Williams said “Tragically, one of the young boys drowned, while the other was rescued and raced to hospital”.

He said the three Tshwane MMCs, deployed to the scene to engage with the local community, city officials and contractors, found that the site had not been adequately secured, nor were barriers put in place.

Williams said “I consider this to be negligence on the contractor’s part, as it is clear the contractor did not take the necessary precautions to ensure that there was adequate access control to the site”.

“I have given immediate instruction that legal action must be pursued against the contractor. The city will be moving to hold the contractor accountable and we will consider all legal options available to us.”

Williams added that he would immediately call upon the ward councillor, community liaison officer and site managers to explain their responsibilities in relation to the incident and site management.

“These individuals should have direct oversight over these projects on a continuous basis and they are the first line of contact on such matters with the local community.”

Project management staff will also be dispatched to conduct site inspections at all construction sites around the city and report back following the latest drowning.

“Wherever we discover instances of poor safety or failures to adequately secure sites, the city will deal with contractors harshly.”

The mayor is expected to meet with the family of the three boys who died on Saturday, and will also be prioritising an engagement with the family of the young boy who drowned on Monday.

“Our deepest condolences and sympathies are also with the affected families who experienced this tragic loss today.”

The mayor concluded that “Words cannot convey the sadness and grief which they must be feeling at the loss of this young boy. May peace and comfort find them during this difficult time and may the soul of this young boy rest in peace”.