Khayelitsha shooting

Police managed to rescue a woman from a flooded river in the Free State at the weekend. Photograph: The South African Files

Free State divers recover eighth body in Steynsrus farm drowning incident

Free State Police are probing the circumstances surrounding the drowning of eight people, mostly children, on a farm outside Steynsrus.

Khayelitsha shooting

Police managed to rescue a woman from a flooded river in the Free State at the weekend. Photograph: The South African Files

Free State police divers have concluded search operations and recovered the eighth body – that of a 7-year-old child – after a tragic drowning incident reported on a farm outside Steynsrus.


The victim, 7-year-old Karabo Kok, is believed to have drowned alongside six other children between the ages of 4 and 14-years-old and a 26-year-old man, when the Honda Ballade they were travelling in was swept into a river near Somerset east farm outside Steynsrus on Sunday morning, 7 February.

The Steynsrus community is reeling from the tragedy, with the Moqhaka Local Municipality which includes the Free State town and Kroonstad expressing their condolences to those affected.


It is yet to be determined if heavy rainfall in the area had an impact on the Steynsrus tragedy. Free State Police Spokesperson Motantsi Makhele says an inquest has been opened to ascertain the events leading to the drownings.

What is known about the incident, is that the now deceased driver of the vehicle, 26-year-old Tshokolo Hlongwane, the seven children and a second unnamed man were all inside the white vehicle when it was swept into the river.

The two men managed to get out of the vehicle but Hlongwane went back in to try and rescue the children who were trapped inside the vehicle – sadly to no avail.

The 7-year-old’s body was only recovered after a lengthy search on Monday afternoon, 8 February, whilst the bodies of the other seven victim were found on Sunday.

The six other children who died have been identified as: Thapelo Tekanya (4), Ntaoleng Mpeko (13), Relebohile Mpeko (9), Mojalefa Mosibi (12), Bokamoso Maphakisa (8) and Hopolang Monyatsi (6).

“It is so heartbreaking for any parent to loose the child in this manner. Our condolences goes to all these families who were affected by this tragedy.”

Free State Police Spokesperson, Baile Motswenyane

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has reported multiple fatal and non-fatal drowning accidents and water-related emergencies in SA over the past weekend. The institute has, therefore, appealed to the public to be cautious in and around coastal and inland waters.


The NSRI reported the following national incidents on Monday 8 February 2021; 

  • Two adult females drowned at Trafalgar Beach on the KZN South Coast. In that same incident a teenage girl and a teenage boy were rescued safely;
  • An adult male drowned at Palmiet Beach, Kleinmond and in that incident an adult male was also rescued safely; 
  • A 12-year-old girl drowned at Glencairn Tidal Pool in Cape Town;
  • An adult male is missing on an inlet river to the Vaal Dam in a drowning accident;
  • Emergency Services and Police Divers are still searching for at least five people who are missing in flood-related incidents;
  • A 13-year-old girl suffered serious injuries after falling from rocks into Clanwilliam Dam.


Meanwhile in Mpumalanga, five people including a 13-year-old boy have been reported missing following the torrential rains in the area.

Eight people thus far, have died from the localised flooding in the area which has been attributed to tropical storm Eloise, which wreaked havoc in Mozambique before its effects spilled over into South Africa.