Baptism claims lives

A woman walking in the waters of Monwabisi Beach where St Paul's Apostolic Faith Church congregants drowned.

A Khayelitsha family and their church remain hopeful that the body of Awonke Manyakanyaka, who was swept away at sea during a baptism ceremony, will resurface. This after days of searching at sea.

The 20-year-old church assistant at St Paul’s Apostolic Faith Mission Church was swept out to sea on Sunday March 25 at Monwabisi Beach after he entered the water during the baptism ceremony in which two other other people, Thembaliphelele Klaas, 29, and Sonwabiso Nyandu, 36, also drowned.

His hopeful brother, Mandla Manyakanyaka, said it is reported that Awonke ran into difficulty while trying to help another man in rough seas. Despite an extensive search, no sign has been found of his body.

Talking to Vukani at his Site B home on Tuesday, March 27, Mandla said he was hopeful that his brother’s body will be recovered. “We live by hope and with hope hence we are here today. We hope to find him alive or dead. At this point it does not matter how we found him and in which state. The important thing is to find him. This is the third day today and we still trust that we will see him,” he said.

He said what encourages the family is that the church is working with them. “We met on Monday with his church. They updated us and we even went to the beach to see for ourselves police searching for the body. Another important thing that we should not forget is that the church has lost more than us. They have already lost two members who died instantly there and now possibly my brother. He was their son too so we are not alone in this. We were introduced by him to the church. He loved his church,” he told Vukani.

He said he was thankful to people for the support his family is getting.

Luphumzo Sixishe, a preacher at St Paul’s Apostolic Faith Mission Church, who was part of the ceremony, told Vukani that the church and the family were in deep shock but has not lost hope.

He said they were devastated by the drownings. “It is not nice to lose somebody you love – somebody you have grown to know, somebody you have worked with and trusted. We are devastated. But as believers we always knew that one day our names will be called. How they will be called, we do not know. What makes us happy is that our brothers died in the duty they loved. They died at a place they have worked for. That makes us strong,” he said.

He said the congregation will be going to Cofimvaba and Ngqamakhwe in April to bury Mr Klaase and Mr Nyandu’s bodies.

To the grieving families Mr Sixishe had the following words of encouragement: “Let us not cry now. Let God take us through this incident. He is our Creator. He knows better. We should not cry such that we forget those who have left us. Let us bury the ones we have and let God shine his light upon us,” he said.