Two girls, aged 15 and 18 have drowned in a dam at Mganduzweni Trust in Masoyi near White River, Mpumalanga.
The incident occurred on Friday, 12 June 2020.
According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the province, the two girls, who are cousins, were with their friends when they went to the dam to wash their laundry.
"One of the girls slipped and fell into the dam, when the other one tried to rescue her, she too fell in as well. The other friends then tried to pull them out of the dam but all their efforts were unsuccessful. They then called for help where police as well as the diving unit were summoned to the scene, however upon arrival, the girls were certified dead on the scene by medical personnel. An inquest was then opened and is being investigated by police", said SAPS provincial spokesperson Leonard Hlathi.
Provincial Commissioner urges communities to be safe
Mpumalanga's police commissioner Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma has weighed in on the tragedy, saying it is heart-breaking that the lives of two young girls were cut short in the drowning incident especially during the celebration of Youth Month. Zuma has further urged communities to exercise caution when making use of rivers and dams.
Drowning incidents in Mpumalanga
Incidents of drowning in the province are unfortunately nothing new, as in 2019, at least 30 people had lost their lives in the water. However, the latter has been linked more recreational uses including swimming.
As the heatwave was in full force, people opted to swim as a way to cool off, particularly in the province. In December, 15 people drowned.
"Besides swimming lessons we are urging the public to stay away from rivers, dams and places which are not designated for swimming because that is dangerous to their lives", Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Mandla Msibi said at the time.
"You find out that people run to swim while under the influence of alcohol which hampers their judgment, leading to loss of life. Parents must help us and stop children from getting into swimming pools if they don't know how to swim," said Msibi.
Many have pointed fingers at government over drownings linked to domestic activities including bathing, cook and washing clothes, accusing them of failing to introduce proper infrastructure to rural communities.