A road between Qhaka and Mthatha, Eastern Cape is virtually cut off after mudslides during heavy rains and flooding. A 12-year-old girl drowned following flooding at KwaBhaca (formerly Mount Frere). Picture: Supplied

Port Elizabeth - Three learners from the rural parts of the Eastern Cape have died following heavy rains and strong water currents at a nearby dam, bringing the death toll in the province from this week's storm and associated flooding to seven. 

According to the Eastern Cape Department of Education, two learners were from Bukazi Village in Flagstaff, and the other learner was from Elubhacweni Village in Mt Frere.  

Department spokesperson Mali Mtima said the school children drowned on Wednesday.  

Mtima said the two learners from the OR Tambo Coastal District were believed to have left their homes after school and went to a nearby dam for a swim, but drowned due to a heavy current. Their bodies were recovered by police divers who were called to the scene following the incident.  

The Grade 6 learners were Yanga Solubambo, 13, schooled at at Kwa Guqa Senior Primary School, and Aseza Mngcilo,13, schooled at Pandaphantsi Senior Primary School in Bukazi Village.

Mtima said Asiphe Buso, 11, from Mzamo Primary school in Alfred Nzo West district, was kept at home due the rains, but was later sent on an errand. 

"Unfortunately on her way (to the errand), she was swept away and drowned from a makeshift bridge by a heavy current as she was crossing."  

Mtima said while the incidents occurred after school hours, the department activated its Social Support Services to provide support to the families. 

Eastern Cape Education MEC Mlungisi Mvoko urged the families to work with the department in ensuring that safety measures were strictly adhered to.   

"We cannot overemphasize the importance of a life of any child, and losing a child is every parent's nightmare. I hope these families and parents will find solace in the Almighty during this period of grief in their lives. 

"The department urges parents to take precautionary measures with their children during this period as the recent heavy rains have filled dams and rivers. We appeal to parents to ensure consistent supervision of children, especially what they do after school. Despite this, our prayers are with these families and we hope and pray that God comforts them in this trying time of their lives," said Mvoko. 

MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Fikile Xasa, said four other deaths were recorded in the province since the start of heavy rains and flooding. 

Xasa said the process of assessing damage in flood-ravaged areas was still ongoing and no decision has yet been made to declare a state of disaster. 

In Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, a child of 21 months, fell into a ditch and drowned while reportedly playing, while a female, 38, in Ward 25 of Nyandeni Local Municipality, drowned while trying to cross the Emdumbi River. In addition, a 12-year-old child drowned while crossing a river in Mzimvubu Local Municipality and a female, 39, from KwaKhanyayo in Ward 15 of Mbizana Local Municipality drowned while crossing a river. 

African News Agency/ANA