Police at the scene where Tshedza Ravhutsi drowned at the Nandoni Dam. Photo supplied.

Fears of more drownings amidst scorching heatwave


With the intense heatwave and temperatures soaring to more than 40º C in some parts of the country, including the Vhembe region, for people, particularly from rural areas, to seek relief in the cool waters of nearby rivers or dams is totally understandable.

Residents from the Tshilungoma community, at the edge of the vast Nandoni Dam, are not exempt from this temptation. On a hot day, hundreds of young people gather at the dam for a cold swim. This, even though many people have drowned in the dam over the years.

On Thursday, 23 November, the community again learned with shock about the drowning of one of the locals. The man, identified as Tshedza Ravhutsi (23), was enjoying a cold swim with others at a popular spot when the incident happened.

One of the witnesses, Murangi Mudau, said that many swimmers were at the dam, with some having braais and relaxing when they heard screams for help. “We rushed to where the screams were coming from, only to find that the man was far away, in the deep water. No one was prepared to take the risk of going in that deep to rescue him as there are crocodiles in the water. At first, it looked as if he had been caught by something that dragged him into the deep waters, but we later learned that the body was intact when it was brought to the surface. We do not know what to do now. It is very hot, and we do not have money to pay to go to public swimming pools. This had always been our own free swimming area where we enjoy ourselves, but after this incident, we feel the area is no longer safe,” he said.

Vhembe police spokesperson W/O Vuledzani Dathi confirmed the incident. “We received a telephone call alerting us about the incident, and we rushed to the scene. On arrival, our members were shown the area where the man had drowned. Our search-and-rescue team was activated and promptly retrieved the body from the water. This is very tragic, and we are making an appeal to communities not to venture into unsafe dams and rivers. We understand it is hot out there, but it is not worth risking lives in waters where people will end up drowning and be attacked by crocodiles and other dangerous animals,” he said.

The police have opened an inquest docket, following the incident.


News in brief - Date: 01 December 2023

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Elmon Tshikhudo

Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.