Trainee sangoma, aged 25, drowns during rituals in a river near Bushbuckridge

Police divers in a river

Police in Mpumalanga retrieved the body of a 25-year-old man, a trainee sangoma, who drowned in the Rainbow River at Majembeni Trust. File Picture

Published Feb 5, 2024


A trainee traditional healer, aged 25, drowned in the Rainbow River at Majembeni Trust near Bushbuckridge while performing rituals.

The incident has caused police in Mpumalanga to warn communities across the province to be cautious, and avoid similar incidents of drownings.

The incident occurred on Sunday morning, at around 9am.

“According to information, three male trainees and the female traditional healer went to the river to perform some rituals. During the process, one of the trainees disappeared inside the river,” Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Colonel Donald Mdhluli narrated.

“A search was conducted with no luck.”

The matter was immediately reported to the police and divers from the SA Police Service (SAPS) were summoned to the scene.

“Sadly, the body was retrieved after three hours, at about 12pm. What is currently known is that there were no visible injuries on the deceased's body, however, an inquest is being investigated by the police,” he said.

Police recovered the body of a 25-year-old trainee sangoma after he drowned in a river near Bushbuckridge. File Picture: Courtney Africa / Independent Newspapers

Meanwhile, provincial commissioner of SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has appealed to community members to “be extra careful when conducting activities in the rivers”.

Manamela added that due to continuous rainfall experienced in most areas in the province, it should be noted that most rivers and dams are swollen, “which poses danger to anybody going to the rivers and even dams”.

In December, IOL reported that as rainy weather continues to batter different parts of Gauteng, the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) also appealed to residents to be cautious when they visit rivers across the city to conduct rituals in streams and rivers.

“The water levels are much higher now. If you look at the Jukskei along the area of Alexandra, Kaalfontein which is mostly in Ivory Park area … and the Klip River, the water levels are much higher. We are monitoring the areas because when know that when we have these kind of rainfalls, our residents especially who believe in the activities of baptism and rituals, they are tempted to go to these areas now that the water levels are much higher,” said spokesperson for the Joburg EMS, Robert Mulaudzi.

He said the religious communities frequent the rivers and streams to conduct rituals of cleansing and baptism.

Learning how to swim can drastically reduce your chances of drowning when going into any body of water.

File picture of the Meadowlands based Jordaan Ekukhanyeni Zion Church conducting a baptism ceremony at Kliprivier. Picture: Neo Ntsoma

“We are pleading with people to make sure that, as and when they conduct these activities, they exercise caution. They should ensure that the congregants, or the people that are participating in these rituals are much more safer.

“From our side, we are on high alert, we monitor all seven regions of the city. We have all of our 30 fire stations across the City of Johannesburg fully operational. Most of our members didn’t go on leave to spend time with families, they are on the ground to make sure that we have enough boots on the ground to respond to emergencies,” he said.

In November, the bodies of two people were recovered in the Klip River after the duo drowned while conducting rituals in fast-flowing waters.