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Teen drowns in Berg

A teenage girl from Mbekweni drowned in the Berg River over the weekend.

Paarl police spokesperson Capt Louise du Plessis said the girl had gone swimming with friends on Saturday 8 February when the tragedy occurred. The victim was identified as 17-year-old Moira Samuels.

A man passing by in his vehicle spotted a body floating near the riverbank and, afterwards, passing that spot again, he saw the body was still there. It was later removed by officials. Paarl Post has reported various cases of Berg drownings over the years, especially when bathers are drawn to the river during heatwaves.

In 2014, a woman drowned while attempting to save her four children in the river. Three of them were struggling in the volatile waters and a fourth child made it to the river bank. The mother did not survive the ordeal.

In October 2018, two children drowned in two different incidents, a week after each other, when both were swimming with friends.

The authorities, including local police and municipal law enforcement officials, have at various times made it clear that swimming in the river is strictly prohibited. Notice boards along the river bank clearly state that no swimming is allowed in the river.

The latest incident has sparked concern from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), which is campaigning for water safety more aggressively. Simoné Bantam, NSRI spokesperson for the Drakenstein area, said the institute is available to deliver safety-oriented information sessions at schools, churches or clinics.

“Let us run our proactive educational initiative [the NSRI Water Safety Programme] at your school, clinic or crèche, and teach people about water safety at no cost,” she said.

Lesson periods vary from age group to age group, but Grade R to 4 takes about 30 minutes and Grade 5 to 10 about 40 minutes, where hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) will be introduced, while adult classes take about 30 to 45 minutes. Those interested can contact the institute at info@searescue.org.za.

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