Thu, 25 Feb 2021

  • Police have called for caution around waterways after five people drowned in Mpumalanga.

  • Three adults and two children have drowned in four incidents since 19 January.
  • The youngest victim was a 1-year-old child who drowned in a ditch while playing.

Five people have drowned in Mpumalanga in the past 10 days, prompting authorities to warn the public to stay away from rivers and dams.

One of the victims was a 1-year-old, who drowned in a ditch.

Tropical Cyclone Eloise, which reached South Africa on Sunday, brought heavy rain and flooding.

READ | Cyclone Eloise: 13 dead, thousands homeless after storm hits southern Africa

On Tuesday, as the storm abated, Mpumalanga Cogta department head Sam Ngubane said two people were possibly missing after they were swept away by floodwaters.

On Tuesday, the body of a 40-year-old man was found at Pilgrim's Rest after he disappeared at a nearby river, said police spokesperson Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.

The disappearance was reported at the local police station on Monday. The police divers recovered the body on Tuesday and an inquest was registered.

EXPLAINER | Tropical storm Eloise: What is the difference between a cyclone and overland depression, and what to expect

In another incident on Tuesday, the body of a 1-year-old boy was discovered in a water-filled ditch at Nkaba Trust in Elukwatini. The child was last seen playing nearby.

Child swept away by river

Only two days before, a 5-year-old drowned near Hazyview. The child and his mother were attempting to cross the Sukani River at Masoyi on Sunday.

"Reports suggest... the boy, who was held by his mother, fell into the water after slipping from her hands and unfortunately drowned. An inquest docket was registered, and the body of the boy has since been retrieved by police divers," said Hlathi.

Earlier that week, on 18 January, a 24-year-old sangoma and his 22-year-old trainee drowned while performing a ritual at the Mkhondo River.

"The sangoma, together with his five trainees and one member of the public, went to the river to perform some rituals. It is said that the sangoma dipped three trainees in the water successfully, however, on the fourth trainee, things went terribly wrong," said Hlathi.

The sangoma and the trainees disappeared under the water. Police divers retrieved the bodies on 19 January.

"Since the beginning of summer, a number of people have drowned in different parts of the province and as a result, police are appealing to the public to avoid the danger of getting into flooded rivers and dams," added Hlathi.

Head of the national Disaster Management Centre, Mmaphaka Tau, advised people to avoid crossing flooded roads and bridges. He also recommended that they avoid walking or driving through moving water. He also encouraged South Africans to keep abreast of the weather situation and to avoid flooded areas.

Two children were confirmed to have died due to the tropical storm. In Limpopo, a 5-year-old boy drowned while crossing a river, and a 14-year-old boy died in KwaZulu-Natal.

Source: News24

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