A second religious pilgrim has died within a fortnight at a waterfall in Roodepoort, Gauteng.
The waterfall at Manie Mulder Adventure Park in Roodepoort has become known as a high-risk area after several drownings of church members in recent years.
Roodekrans Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Andreas Oberlechner said most of the people who drowned were members of a well-known church.
This comes after the discovery of the body of a 43-year-old man who was identified as a church member by his clothes, which were abandoned near the falls.
Netcare spokesperson Shawn Herbst said the police search and rescue unit, police diving unit and the City of Johannesburg aquatic unit located the body of the man submerged in the water.
“At 9.38am on Tuesday, Netcare 911 responded to reports of a drowning at Manie Mulder Adventure Park in Roodepoort. Reports from the scene indicate a park ranger had found abandoned clothes nearby. The ranger raised the alarm and emergency services were called to the scene,” he said.
Herbst said the man was brought to the surface and was assessed by a Netcare 911 emergency care practitioner who declared him deceased.
Two drownings in two weeks
Oberlechner said it was problematic because people who visit the waterfall on a religious pilgrimage to cleanse themselves do not realise the depth of the water.
“We have had a large number of people drowning over the past few years. They were mainly religious pilgrims who went the waterfall for religious ceremonies and were then caught under the waterfall and drowned. We have had two incidents in the past two weeks,” he said.
Underneath the waterfall is a 2.5m hole which they are not aware of. They slip inside … and the water presses them down.
“Underneath the waterfall is a 2.5m hole which they are not aware of. They slip inside the hole under the waterfall and the water presses them down. They can’t get out of the hole with the water pushing down on them, especially when they can’t swim.”
Oberlechner said the waterfall attracts people from all over Gauteng, mostly to be “cleansed”, and some leave clothing and items behind after performing their rituals.
“We carry out regular clean-ups. Some people even perform animal sacrifices,” he said.
A warning sign had been placed near the waterfall, he said, “but more needs to be done”.
“If nobody collects clothing after 24 hours, it’s an indication that someone didn’t emerge from the waterfall,” he said.
Gauteng police spokesperson Capt Mavela Masondo said investigations are continuing and an inquest docket has been opened to determine the cause of the most recent death.
Masondo said the deceased has been identified by his family members.
“At this stage, police suspect possible drowning. It is reported the caretaker saw clothes associated with a certain church, then alerted police. Police, with the help of a sniffer dog, managed to retrieve his body,” he said.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)