Warning as water death toll rockets

EIGHT people, including two children, have drowned in Gauteng since the beginning of this month, police said yesterday.

EIGHT people, including two children, have drowned in Gauteng since the beginning of this month, police said yesterday.

"This is truly alarming," Superintendent Eugene Opperman said.

He said this figure was already higher than in the same period last year.

Opperman said five people drowned when their bakkie was washed off the Hebron bridge in Ga-Rankuwa on December 2.

"The last of the five bodies was recovered on Sunday."

He said two children, seven and eight, had drowned in swimming pools in the past week.

Exercise caution

He appealed to the public to treat all water with caution.

"Even good swimmers can suddenly experience problems and drown, particularly in the sea, rivers, dams and lakes."

Opperman also warned that "drinking and swimming" was a bad idea. He said piloting any vessel while intoxicated was wrong.

"People tend to ignore the danger signs, while others want to show off in front of friends and family, often with tragic results."

Opperman said the Gauteng water police would start their festive season operations at dams, rivers and lakes throughout the province on December 10.

Public awareness and educational programmes among holiday-makers and vessel owners at dams would be carried out.

Opperman warned watercraft owners not to allow children under 16 to operate the craft.

"The police have rescued children as young as eight on jet skis that ran out of petrol." - Sapa

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