Zimbabwe congregant drowns in South Africa

Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau

THE country’s embassy in South Africa yesterday announced that a Zimbabwean woman was among a group of Johanne Masowe Apostolic Church congregants who drowned during a baptismal service in Jukskei River in Johannesburg.

About 15 people were reported to have drowned after members of the Johanne Masowe Apostolic Church were swept by the river last week.

Consul-General to Johannesburg, Mrs Melody Chaurura said they have since established that 10 of the deceased persons were South Africans.

She said they are working with the South African government to establish the nationality of the remaining three victims.
“As of this afternoon (yesterday), we established that 10 victims were positively identified as South Africans while one of them identified as Sifiso Mpunzi is from Zimbabwe.

Her next of kin have been notified and we are in contact with the family regarding repatriation of the deceased,” said Mrs Chaurura.

The other three bodies are yet to be positively identified.
She said the embassy is yet to establish the pastor’s contact details and the South African Police Service has since opened an inquest.

Johannesburg Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokesperson Mr Robert Mulaudzi told the media in that country that one woman was rescued while two more bodies were recovered on Saturday.

Mr Mulaudzi said there are still families reporting that their loved ones were missing.
“We still have three families who are still worried about their loved ones. They do not know whether they were also part of the people who might be missing.

So, we agreed that we will be going back this morning to try and search for the other missing people,” he said.
Authorities have been combing through the Sands River which runs through the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg.

At least 14 bodies were recovered from the Jukskei River this week after a torrent swept away worshippers during the church ceremony at the weekend.

Johannesburg Emergency Services (EMS) said a three-month-old baby is among three people still missing or presumed dead.
A group of 33 worshippers had joined the baptism on the banks of the Jukskei River when the flood struck.

In June four people drowned at a baptism ceremony in Limpopo Province and last month the Water and Sanitation Department warned against such ceremonies.

Religious groups frequently gather along the Jukskei River, which runs past townships such as Alexandra in the east of Johannesburg, in large groups at weekends. — @tupeyo.

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