Home News Jukskei drownings: Search for missing three- month-old baby to continue on Friday

Jukskei drownings: Search for missing three- month-old baby to continue on Friday

Pretoria – Search and rescue teams who are in an operation to find a missing three-month-old baby who was swept away with congregants who were performing a ritual have been stopped for the day as there were no new developments.

City of Joburg’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) spokesperson, Xolile Khumalo, said the search started in Main Road and was called off at William Nicol, Sandton, on Thursday afternoon.

The baby went missing while in the company of congregants that were swept away last Saturday during a baptism ceremony in the Jukskei River.

Fifteen bodies have been recovered since the incident. The names of the deceased have yet to be released.

On Friday, the team will continue their efforts from William Nicol and then pass Dainfern through Steyn City.

Dr Jill Fortuin, executive director of Drowning Prevention at the National Sea Rescue Institute, said the organisation often responded to drownings related to baptisms.

“It is not safe to conduct baptisms in rivers, dams and the sea. There are so many reasons why it’s not safe – because the river sometimes has rocks, and the congregants do not know the depth of that river.

“It would be better if they do it at a place where it is authorised for swimming and under supervision,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Joburg EMS said it has been approached by different families reporting that their loved ones are missing, with concerns that they could also have been part of the congregation.

It was not known how many individuals attended the baptism. However, it was claimed that the pastor had been running a church illegally and performing rituals in the river for those who sought his advice.

According to eNCA, the whereabouts of the pastor are unknown. Some believe he has gone into hiding.