Mpumalanga sees an increase in drownings following heavy rains and heatwaves

2019-02-06 22:35
Police Search and Rescue vehicle. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

Police Search and Rescue vehicle. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

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Thirty-six drownings have been recorded in the southern part of the Mpumalanga Lowveld between December 2018 and February 3.

In one of the incidents, police divers searched the Nkomazi River for eight days before they found the body of a 25-year-old man who had drowned near Tjakastad.

Officials were only eventually able to recover the upper part of his badly decomposed body.

According to police spokesperson Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe, it is believed that crocodiles devoured the man's bottom half. 

Concern

Bhembe said there were 18 drownings in December and 18 in January. He added this was of great concern to the police.

"These drownings are all as a result of heavy rains that fell in most parts of Mpumalanga. Even small streams turned onto raging rivers when they were in flood," he said. 

Of the 18 people who drowned in December, only two bodies could not be recovered. Bhembe said that the river where the two had drowned was infested with crocodiles and that they assumed the bodies had been eaten by these reptiles.

He said, in most of these cases, the victims had drowned when trying to cross flooded streams and rivers.

Heatwave

The heat wave experienced in the Lowveld also saw a number of young boys drowning.

"This was the case this past Sunday when four boys, between the ages of 8 and 12, tried to beat the heat and went for a swim in the Driekoppiesdam near Nkomazi. Because two of them could not swim very well, they went too far into the dam and drowned," said Bhembe.

On January 31, a nine-year-old boy from Matsulu went for a swim in the Crocodile River. He allegedly was with friends when he disappeared under the water.

Police divers were unable to recover his body.

Read more on:    mbombela
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