Search for victims of Jukskei River flash floods resumes

The search for missing church members who reportedly drowned at the Jukskei River near Sandton in Johannesburg at the weekend resumes on Tuesday.

This after a rescue team from the City of Johannesburg called off its search and rescue operation on Monday afternoon due to heavy rains and strong winds.

More than 30 church goers are believed to have been swept away by flash floods while conducting a baptism ceremony on Saturday. By Monday afternoon, the death toll had risen to 14 people including children. Other congregants are believed to be still missing.

According to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), some of the dead bodies discovered might not be related to the church baptism disaster. The NSRI said the victims could be from isolated incidents that had not been reported.

Robert Mulaudzi, spokesperson for the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services, said: “We will search along the Jukskei River again but it will depend on the weather conditions, because we had to call the search off on Monday due to the risk of injury to our search team.”

City of Johannesburg MMC for community development, councillor Ronald Harris, said the city is devastated by what has happened and warned church groups not to perform rituals in dangerous areas.

“Our intention is not to restrict anybody’s religious practices. We do not intend standing against or stopping anyone from practising their constitutional right to worship as they wish,” Harris said.

“However, we are appealing to leaders of those congregations to be careful when embarking on activities in and around bodies of water. A flood can come at any time.”

Gauteng weather service has again issued a warning for flash floods, heavy rain, hail and strong winds on Tuesday.

Heavy rains wreaked havoc on Monday afternoon, especially in the northern areas of Johannesburg, with Sandton being hit the hardest. Residents reported uprooted trees after hailstones the size of a golf ball lashed the city.


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