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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Man drowns during baptism ritual in Limpopo

The man slipped into the water and drowned soon after baptism in Groot Letaba River in Nwamarhanga village early on Saturday morning

The Police in Giyani have opened a case of inquest after a 27-year-old congregant drowned in a river during a baptism ritual in Limpopo.

It is understood the man slipped into the water and drowned soon after baptism in Groot Letaba River in Nwamarhanga village early on Saturday morning.

Baptism drowning

Police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said officers were alerted to the incidents by other congregants.

“According to the information, the church congregants led by their priest, had been performing religious rituals and after they concluded with the session, one of the congregants went back to the river to collect water. The 27-year-old man, identified as Ronald Rikhotso, reportedly slipped and drowned.

“Police were alerted about the incident and the body was retrieved from the river by the divers from the SAPS Provincial Search and Rescue Team,” Ledwaba said.

Ledwaba said police investigations are still continuing.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Commissioner of police in Limpopo Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe cautioned the community to be careful when using dams and rivers for any purpose including religious activities.

ALSO READ: Government ‘to blame’ for deaths of church members at Jukskei River

Jukskei tragedy

Last year, at least 15 drowned during a baptism ceremony in the Jukskei River.

About 30 church members who had gathered in the river were caught in a strong current during the ritual and swept away.

Joburg Emergency Services Robert Mulaudzi at the time urged residents of the City of Johannesburg to be cautious when conducting baptism rituals at riverbanks.

“We know that during the festive season there will be a lot of religious ceremonies like baptisms, but water levels are high. They must exercise caution, and have safety measures in place when they conduct these rituals.”

Limpopo drowning

In June 2022 police opened inquests after two baptismal candidates drowned in the Masetheko Dam in Limpopo.

Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Mamphaswa Seabi said the duo died during a baptism ceremony conducted by a pastor in the dam.

ALSO READ: Two congregants drown during baptismal ritual in Limpopo river

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