Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
THE bodies of two Victoria Falls men who drowned in the Zambezi River last Thursday have been found floating 5km downstream.
A team comprising police, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers and guides from the Rafting Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ), had been searching for the bodies of Elson Mathe (24) and Thamsanga Ncube (22) since Friday.
The two drowned at gorge number six where they had gone for swimming with a group of about 25 friends. A huge wave of water hit them around 3:40pm and the others who were on the edge of the water swam to safety while Ncube, who was a soccer player for ZPC Hwange, and Mathe drowned.
Kayakers, who were dispatched on Sunday morning to look for the bodies, spotted the first one floating on the Zambian side of the river at gorge number 7B while the other was at gorge number 9 on the Zimbabwean side.
Both bodies had started decomposing. Gorge number 7B is about 3km downstream from gorge number 6 where the duo reportedly drowned, while gorge number 9 is about 5km away.
RAZ chairman, Mr Skinner Ndlovu led a team of guides on Sunday midmorning as they sailed downstream and secured the bodies in ‘body bags’ before loading them onto a raft.
They sailed further for about 10km downstream to gorge number 11 where about 60 men including villagers from nearby Monde village, had gathered to help carry the bodies up the gorge.
It took about 30 minutes to reach the top of the gorge where a police vehicle was waiting to carry the bodies to a mortuary. Mr Ndlovu said the mission was hectic.
“We started mobilising our team after we received a call from ZRP. We usually do it with police sub aqua unit but they were doing another rescue somewhere. We set off in conjunction with police and Zimparks and we had been sending people down the river since Friday to check until today when the first team of kayakers found them and notified us,” he said.
“We organised a few guys and went down in a raft to do the recovery of the bodies and we have managed to get them all. We want to thank the effort of everyone who was involved in the operation.”
Mr Ndlovu said water levels in the Zambezi River were still high and only suitable for high water rafting, which starts from Rapid Number 11 going downstream, making any water activity between Rapid number 1 and 10 dangerous.
Police at the scene commended the public’s efforts, particularly Monde villagers, and co-operation by RAZ members who include Wild Horizons, Shearwater Adventures, Adventure Zone, Shockwave and Try Rafting.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson, Chief Inspector Siphiwe Makonese has appealed to the public to desist from playing near water bodies.
“I can confirm that the bodies of the two who drowned while swimming at gorge number 6 on the Zambezi River have been retrieved this afternoon (Sunday).
“RAZ led by Mr Skinner Ndlovu and other rafting companies, police, Zimparks rangers and Monde villagers, worked together to retrieve the bodies from gorge number 7 and 9 where they had been swept to by the wave,” said Chief Insp Makonese.