WATCH | Woman clings to tree after being swept into raging Randburg river
A Johannesburg man has described the terror of watching as a woman clung to a tree in raging flood waters on Tuesday.
The man, from Blairgowrie, near Randburg, on Wednesday said the woman got into trouble shortly after a storm struck the evening before.
Video footage showed the woman in distress as emergency workers and locals tried to help her.
"She and her family members were doing prayers near the waterfall area, and she was then swept away," Nico Theron told TimesLIVE.
He rushed to the scene with a rope in tow, shortly after receiving a WhatsApp notification on the local community group.
"Her family couldn't do anything and they were shouting and screaming for help," Theron said.
The woman's mother could not bear to watch what could have turned out to be a tragic situation.
"She [the mother] was lying down and had her eyes covered. She didn't want to see what was happening," Theron recounted.
Theron said he had received the distress notification at around 5.24pm, which was shortly after the woman had gone into the water.
She was eventually rescued by security guards and ER24 paramedics at around 5.47pm - more than 20 harrowing minutes later.
"For me, it felt like hours that she clung onto that tree," Theron said.
Asked how the victim and her family were after she was eventually rescued, Theron said: "The family was ecstatic … She appeared fine, just in shock and quite wet."
Theron said it was not unusual for people to pray near the waterfall - and they always tried to warn people to be careful.
Meanwhile, another local, Ashley Shamrock, who works in the vicinity, said he was cycling home when he saw the commotion by the river bank.
"People were standing around but there was nothing that we could do. I was shaken up by it. I didn't want to take a video when I couldn't really do anything to help," Shamrock said.
He added that he left before the woman was eventually pulled from the water.
According to ER24, the woman was 47 years old.
"It is understood that she was swept downstream by a flash flood shortly after crossing a waterfall. She managed to grab a tree branch and climbed onto the tree," the emergency workers said.
The medics said fast-thinking security guards had already started the rescue efforts before they arrived on the scene.
"[They] grabbed a ladder and some rope," ER24 said.
"Medics coaxed her on to cross the water safely. She was found to have sustained moderate injuries and was treated on the scene before being transported to Helen Joseph hospital for further medical care."