A group of initiates – including teenagers – have been left marooned on a stretch of land in Botshabelo, Free State after floodwaters overflowed from persistent rain in the area. It marks another serious incident relating to traditional practices, with some estimates suggesting 77 young men have died for ‘Ulwaluko’ this year alone.
Free State – rescue operation for initiates
It has been reported that there are as many as five people stranded in this part of Free State. Flooding and dangerous weather conditions have drenched parts of the north-east, and the hectic downpours ended-up cutting-off this group from the rest of the mainland. The stream they were situated near has swelled dramatically.
— SABC News Free State (@SABCFreeState) December 9, 2019
Botshabelo rescue updates
The Free State Health Department are confident that the boys will be returned home safely. But with no road vehicles able to get to the group, EMS teams are solely reliant on the use of helicopters and boats.
Botshabelo is community just outside of Bloemfontein, roughly 30 minutes away by car. Just before midday, the provincial government released a statement on the matter, predicting a positive outcome:
“Emergency Services attended to an emergency of Initiation School on N8 that is flooded due to rain. The initiates are trapped and to rescue them we have to use the services of the helicopter because the place is not accessible by road. This is 40km from Bloemfontein. The rescue efforts are progressing well.”
Free State Health Department
The Rescue effort by EMS of 3 initiates whose near N8 Initiation School was flooded by last night’s torrential rain is progressing well. pic.twitter.com/y8tNqD6iKy
— Free State Health (@fs_health) December 9, 2019