Joburg EMS on high alert as worshippers flock to raging rivers and streams

Women doing a ritual in a river

The Johannesburg Emergency Management Services are on high alert as worshippers often tour rivers and streams across the city this time of the year for rituals. File Picture: Bongani Mbatha /Independent Media

Published Dec 26, 2023


As rainy weather continues to batter different parts of Gauteng, the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) has appealed to residents to be cautious when they visit rivers across the city to conduct rituals in streams and rivers - a common practice during this time of the year.

On Christmas Day, the South African Weather Service (Saws) issued a warning for disruptive rainfall and severe thunderstorms, which may cause localised flooding in several regions of the country.

For Tuesday, the Saws warned of “disruptive rain leading to localized flooding of susceptible settlements, roads, low lying areas and bridges as well as localized disruption to municipal services are expected over the eastern half of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, highveld of Mpumalanga, Gauteng, western and central parts of Limpopo, eastern parts of the North West and north-east Free State province”.

Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, spokesperson for the Joburg EMS, Robert Mulaudzi appealed parents to monitor children closely.

Emergency services in Joburg are on high alert as worshippers often tour rivers and streams across the city this time of the year for rituals. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers.

He also appealed to religious communities to exercise precaution amidst the heavy rainfall.

“The water levels are much higher now. If you look at the Jukskei along the area of Alexandra, Kaalfontein which is mostly in Ivory Park area … and the Kiprievier river stream, the water levels are much higher. We are monitoring the areas because when know that when we have these kind of rainfalls, our residents especially who believe in the activities of baptism and rituals, they are tempted to go to these areas now that the water levels are much higher,” he said.

He said the religious communities frequent the rivers and streams to conduct rituals of cleansing and baptism.

“We are pleading with to make sure that as and when they conduct these activities, they exercise caution. They should ensure that the congregants, or the people that are participating in these rituals are much more safer.

“From our side we are on high alert, we monitor all seven regions of the city. We have all of our 30 fire stations across the City of Johannesburg fully operational. Most of our members didn’t go on leave to spend time with families, they are on the ground to make sure that we have enough boots on the ground to respond to emergencies,” he said.

Last month, bodies of two people were recovered in the Klip River after the duo drowned while conducting rituals.

Emergency rescue services were activated and they searched for, and later found bodies of the two people, aged 18 and 21, who drowned in the Klip River in Olifantsvlei in Joburg South.