14 Johane Masowe churchgoers have been confirmed dead after they drowned in a river during a baptism ceremony on Saturday evening.
Thirty-three members of a Zimbabwean white garment church from Alexandra went for baptism in the Jukskei River in Morningside, Johannesburg, when a flash flood occurred, resulting in the tragedy.
Eyewitnesses told the media that the congregants were standing on rocks in the river when a deluge of water poured. The church leader reportedly escaped death by a whisker when he held on to an overhanging tree branch while being swept away.
The police, fire service and specialist aquatic rescue teams, will continue searching today for three people who are still missing.
The search will resume tomorrow for church members who were swept away by the Jukskei River yesterday. 14 people have now been confirmed dead. They were taking part in a baptism ceremony when they were caught by the flash floods. pic.twitter.com/uNxIuN6Y3V
— eNCA (@eNCA) December 4, 2022
Zimbabwean Churchgoers Drown During Baptism In Johannesburg
Spokesperson of the City of Johannesburg Emergency Medical Services Robert Mulaudzi told eNCA that the teams first recovered two drowned bodies on Saturday before 12 others were retrieved on Sunday from the Jukskei River, bringing the count to 14.
“Our residents, especially congregants who normally practice these kinds of rituals, will be tempted to go to these river streams. Our message for them is to exercise caution as and when they conduct these rituals,” Mulaudzi said.
Victor Ncube, a member of the Johane Masowe church, told the media that he rescued five people from the river who had been swept 100 metres downstream.
@CityofJoburgEMS @CityofJoburgZA @CoJPublicSafety Search
for Alex missing 15 continues this morning along the Juskei river stream 2 bodies recovered last night and one person was rescued recieved medical treatment on site later transported to the nearest health care facility. pic.twitter.com/375dlHPQgd
— Cojems Spokesperson (@RobertMulaudzi) December 4, 2022