Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
29 Dec 2021
10:51 am

Police report at least seven drownings across the Free State

Citizen Reporter

Churches have been advised to suspend any activities involving rivers and dams.

Saps Free State's water wing was inundated with drownings over the festive season. Photo: Supplied

At least seven people have lost their lives due to fatal drownings in different parts of the Free State province over the festive season, the police’s water wing reported on Wednesday. 

The drownings were due to a variety of causes, from being intoxicated to attempting to cross flooded roads. 

Police urged residents and communities residing near rivers or streams not to try and cross to the other side, especially “while under the influence of any substance”. 

Churches are also strongly advised to suspend any activities involving rivers and dams, as water levels have risen substantially, and the pressure of fast flowing water is high during the current rainy season. 

ALSO READ: Flood update: Man drowns after vehicle swept into Hartbeest Spruit

In Rosendal, two teenagers, aged 13 and 17, and two adults drowned after the vehicle they were travelling in tried to drive through a flooded road. 

Although four people reportedly drowned, the South African Police Service’s (Saps’) water wing only recovered the bodies of the 17-year-old and two males. The 13-year-old is still missing. 

In Oranjeville, a man, his wife and their family were drinking liquor near a river when the deceased disappeared. 

The last time his wife saw him, he was in the middle of the river waving to the family before disappearing under the water. 

His body was later recovered by the water wing. 

In Botshabelo at a river near Ikemeleng Cattle Post, the body of a 34-year-old man was found by police after he was reported missing on 23 December. The circumstances surrounding his drowning are not clear. 

At De Put River in Senekal, a 41-year-old man drowned after trying to cross the overflowing river on 21 December. 

Free State water wing divers found his body on Christmas Day. 

A 21-year-old priest and a 41-year-old woman disappeared and later drowned in the Bothaville area, after a baptism at a river near Kroonstad. 

Police said while the woman was being baptised, she and the priest drowned. 

Their bodies were later found by divers kilometres from where they died. 

Tips to prevent the risk of drowning 

According to Arrive Alive, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. A person can drown in less than 2.5 centimetres of water. 

Children aged one to four are at particular risk, especially when near swimming pools, and must be monitored constantly – even if they know how to swim. 

Here are some tips on how to prevent drowning: 

  • Using drugs or alcohol? Rather stay away from water 
  • Supervise bath time for children, and never leave a child alone in the bathtub 
  • Insist on life jackets for children who cannot swim 
  • Cover swimming pools, block access when not in use, and do not leave toys in the pool – curious kids could try to retrieve them and fall in 
  • Never cross flooded roads, rivers or dams, even if you are a strong swimmer and even if you are travelling in a vehicle 

Compiled by Nica Richards