Baptisms and river swims claim 20 lives in Limpopo

By Nkhensani Mthombeni

Twenty people have drowned in Limpopo since the start of the rainy season in October.

Most of the people who drowned were either church members being baptised in flooding rivers or others, mostly kids, who were swimming in them.

The recent incidents include two school learners from Tubatse in the Sekhukhune District Municipality in two separate cases.

On Saturday, 25 November, the Saps Search and Rescue Team retrieved the body of Gift Mitchel, 18, from the Olifants River, at a distance of about 48km from the point where he was reportedly swimming with friends.

Thabiso Madire, 12, from Praktiseer outside Burgersfort, drowned when he reportedly jumped into Tubatse River last week.

Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said another incident occurred at Vhulaudzi outside Makhado. Police were dispatched to the scene and upon arrival retrieved a decomposed body believed to be that of an 11-year-old girl who had been reported missing.


“The body was found without both hands and had the clothes matching the description of the missing girl. Investigations have already begun to determine conclusively the identity of the deceased and the circumstances of her death,” Mojapelo said.

Meanwhile in other incidents drownings took place when religious people were taking part in baptism ceremonies in rivers and dams across the province.

Provincial Commissioner of Police Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe has called on communities to be wary of rivers and dams, as persistent rains have raised dam levels.

“Our members attached to the Search and Rescue Unit are currently stretched to the limit as reports of drownings are received almost every day.”

According to the South African Weather Service, this week the southern part of the province, which includes the Malamulele and Thohoyandou areas, have between 30% and 60% chances of more rainfall.

Photos source: SAPS Limpopo

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