Police worry over spike in drowning incidents

Police in Matabeleland North province have expressed concern over the increase in deaths by drowning cases especially involving minors.

This follows the drowning of a 7-year-old boy in Lubimbi, Binga last week. The juvenile was attempting to cross a flooded river when he was swept away.

The provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Glory Banda told CITE that they had intensified awareness campaigns to avoid a repeat of last year. 2021 saw more than 20 people losing their lives to drowning most being children. 

“As ZRP Matebeleland North, we have been carrying out awareness campaigns from the onset of the rainy season advising parents and guardians to look after and monitor their children so that they don’t play near water bodies such as rivers and dams. It’s sad that last year we lost more than 20 people through drowning so this time around that remains our thrust to advise the public to see to it that they monitor their children. We don’t want a repeat of what happened last year,” said Insp. Banda. 

He said since the province received almost the same rainfall the incidents patterns were similar. 

“Since the province received almost the same rains issues of drowning were registered in different places. I wouldn’t say the high frequency of these was high or exclusive to some areas but across the province, we registered these cases.”

Recently a juvenile drowned in Lupane after falling into a canal as he attempted to jump over. Another drowned in the Deka river after slipping into the deep end as she was attempting to take a bath while her mother washed a few metres away. 

Insp. Banda said the police were rolling out a program to train members of the public survival techniques in the event of a drowning incident. 

“We would like to advise members of the public that we have the sub-aqua unit which is mandated with the task of rescuing victims of drowning accidents. Other than that the sub-aqua unit offers survival techniques training such that in the event of a drowning incident somebody can try something to rescue. The lessons can only be offered on arrangements so community leaders can spearhead this program.”

Meanwhile, the body of the 7-year-old Binga boy who drowned while trying to cross a flooded river was retrieved on the banks of the river. 

Circumstances are that on 19 January 2022 at around 1500hrs the now deceased from Bumbutu village, Lubimbi in Binga was seen by a 13-year-old juvenile from the same area trying to cross Bukutu river which was in flood. 

He advised the boy who wanted to visit his grandmother on the other side to return home and wait until the flood had receded. However, the deceased defied the order and went upstream. After a while, the juvenile saw a pink slipper floating in the river and identified it as belonging to the deceased. He retrieved it and went on to inform the other villagers including the deceased’s father. 

A search was conducted leading to the discovery of the deceased’s body on the river bank. Dete police attended the scene.

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