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'Vaal River could break its banks'

Gauteng is dealing with its wettest March in 14 years.

Gauteng is dealing with its wettest March in 14 years. Picture: Angelo Tyler/iWitness.

JOHANNESBURG - As Gauteng deals with its wettest March in 14 years, the Water Affairs Department says a severe flood warning remains in place in parts of the country.

Acting Director General of Water Affairs Trevor Balzer told the Early Breakfast Show there are flood waters coming through the Vaal Dam.

"We're currently at 105.5 percent and there are seven gates open that are discharging 942 metres of water into the Vaal. So if we open the eighth gate, which is a possibility for later today, we could have the river breaking its banks."

Balzer says he spoke to Sedibeng disaster management teams about warning residents about possible floods.

"Motorists need to approach any low level bridges with caution. Don't try to drive across them."

Balzer adds that at this stage it's not a danger to life but a danger to low-lying properties.

"We'll continue to monitor the situation and have warnings issued if the dam rises any higher. The water has also reached the Bloemhof Dam which is 80 percent full. We're trying to manage the possibility of the river breaking its banks."

Meanwhile, Mpumalanga officials say at least six people have drowned due to heavy flooding.

Police say in the latest incident a 12-year-old boy from Ermelo drowned on Monday.

The bodies of five other people were recovered at the weekend in Amersfoort, Hendrina, Lydenburg and Nelspruit.

The police's Captain Leonard Hlathi says the diving unit has managed to rescue 12 people.

"Since 4 March we have recorded 11 drowning incidents in the province and our police diving unit has also rescued 12 people. We are concerned about some of the drowning incidents because there are little children who have also drowned."