The South African government has warned churches to avoid water bodies during the coming Easter weekend amid fears that current heavy rains could trigger more floods across the country.
During Easter holidays, people of different faiths traditionally go to rivers to perform their religious activities such as baptism.
The Department of Water and Sanitation said this practice has proven dangerous and has resulted in drownings in the past.
Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau warned that recent heavy rains in some parts of the country “will make it even more dangerous to conduct such religious practices as water levels in certain rivers have increased sharply.”
“While we respect people’s religious beliefs, it is equally our responsibility as government to alert everyone about the danger associated with baptism in raging rivers, particularly during this period,” Ratau said in a statement.
He added: “The safety of everyone is our priority; therefore, we encourage everyone to find alternative ways of baptism to ensure safety.”
The warning comes as more than 300 people have died due to floods that have hit the Indian Ocean coastal town of Durban in the past few days.