The search for the missing tourist who disappeared on Mount Nyangani in Nyanga while hiking with his wife and friends on Saturday resumed on Wednesday after it was temporarily suspended due to bad weather.
Zaid Dada (31), his wife and another couple tried to climb Mt Nyangani but halfway up, the women and the other man gave up while he proceeded by himself.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Enock Chishiri confirmed the development and said the helicopter that was dispatched to assist in the search was forced to land after heavy winds disrupted the search programme.
“We are still searching for him and on Tuesday, the family visited local chiefs who gave advice on what needs to be done. The police officers, Parks rangers and members from the army are still assisting the relatives.
“On Tuesday the helicopter had to land after there were strong winds which hampered its assistance in the search,” he said.
On Monday, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Ms Caroline Wa- shaya-Moyo said more than 60 people, including rangers and relatives of the missing tourist, were involved in the search.
Air Force of Zimbabwe spokesperson Squadron Leader Donovan Muro-yiwa said they dispatched a helicopter with four soldiers from One Commando Regiment to assist in locating the tourist.
Meanwhile, Chief Saunyama of Nyanga reportedly demanded US$21 000 from the relatives of the missing tourist.
He demanded US$1 000 which he said was meant for him to leave his homestead and assist while the remaining US$20 000 would be paid after finding Dada.
According to a source who declined identification, Dada’s friends came from as far as Australia, South Africa, Botswana and the United Kingdom to assist the Parks rangers, police and soldiers in locating him.
The local Indian community and a helicopter was hired to assist in the search.
“We were shocked on Tuesday when the local chief was consulted. He said that he would leave his homestead after US$1 000 was paid and also a further US$20 000 after finding Zaid.
“There was no option but to pay because what matters is that he is found alive wherever he is because Zaid needs assistance. Assistance has been coming from all corners of the world so that he is found in good shape,” he said.
When contacted for comment, Chief Saunyama refuted the claims saying he delegated people to assist Zaid’s relatives when visiting spirit mediums.
“When one is lost we assume, he would have done something wrong which he is being punished for and traditionally we consult mediums who said he is alive. People take advantage to put my name into disrepute.
“I delegated people to assist his relatives and there is no direct contact with them. We have to handle the issue with care because it is a tourist resort,” said Chief Saunyama.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Inspector Enock Chishiri could neither confirm nor deny the allegations saying that he was aware that the family visited local chiefs who gave advice on what should be done.
“On Tuesday the helicopter had to land after there were strong winds which hampered its assistance in the search.
“Currently there is another helicopter which was hired to assist in the search and police officers will not leave until we exhaust all efforts to find him,” said Insp Chishiri.