The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), an opposition party in South Africa, has mourned 14 Johanne Masowe Baptist Church members who drowned last week Saturday during a baptism ceremony in Jukskei River, Johannesburg.
In a statement yesterday, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Gauteng province said:
The EFF in Gauteng mourn the lives of the 14 Johanne Masowe Baptist Church members who tragically lost their lives on Saturday during their sacred baptism practice along the Jukskei River. We also extend our condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in such a tragic manner.
We also call on the provincial government of Gauteng to intensify the rescue efforts of the added three members who are said to be still missing. As Africans, our faith and spiritual beliefs are entrenched in our DNA. The churches, rivers, mountains and oceans have always been our places of refuge when we seek spiritual guidance. No one would have thought that such a sacred practice would be marred by such a tragedy. In the same breath, we cannot ignore the permanent flood threat that the Jukskei River poses to the Alexander community, particularly in Stjwetla.
The worshippers who are believed to be Zimbabweans were reportedly swept away by flash floods which followed heavy rains in the Bramley Park area, according to local media.
Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi was quoted saying that officials had warned residents about the dangers of conducting rituals along rivers.
Some of the more than 30 congregants were said to have been standing on rocks in the river on Saturday when a torrent of water suddenly swept them away, a witness said.
The pastor was reportedly saved after he clung on to a tree branch overhanging the river as he was being carried away, the witness added.