Congregants swept away by heavy rains during baptism ceremony in a dam
Johannesburg – Two men and a woman died after they were swept away by heaving rains and drowned in a dam during a baptism ceremony on Saturday in the Free State.
The bodies of the men have not yet been found as the search had to be stopped due to the heavy current and incessant rain.
The three were part of a congregation from Botshabelo and they drowned at Liebenbergvlei Dam, near Bethlehem, during a baptism ceremony performed during heavy rains.
It’s not known who among the three was baptising the other two but passer-bys are alleged to have seen them disappear into the dam during the heavy rains and then informed the police.
Free State police spokesperson Brigadier Motansi Makhele said the body of the woman was retrieved by Lejweleputswa District K9 Search and Rescue team.
“However, the search for the two men was provisionally withdrawn due to bad weather conditions and heavy current water flow,” he said.
Another drowning was reported, involving a 14 year old boy, the next day.
The teenager and his friend went swimming in the rain in a ditch that was filled with water in an open veld near Edu College in Welkom.
ER24’s Ross Campbell said they arrived at the scene just before 1pm.
“It is believed that the boy got into trouble when the water was deeper than they thought.
“One of the friends ran to get help, but unfortunately, by the time emergency services arrived, the boy had been underwater for some time. Rescue divers were brought in to retrieve the boy and he was declared dead on the scene,” he said.
Inquest cases have been opened in both incidents.
The Provincial Commissioner of the Free State, Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane appealed to community members to exercise special care in isolated dams and rivers, especially after heavy rains.
“It is better to swim in gentle water, in areas supervised by lifeguards. We also urge parents to advise children to refrain from swimming in dams unsupervised, or crossing in dams with heavy flowing waters or strong current," she said.