Search for Limpopo drowning victims starts

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau

Zimbabwean and South African police are collaborating on the search for the bodies of several people, believed to be Zimbabweans, who reportedly drowned in the Limpopo River on Sunday as they tried to cross illegally into South Africa.

So far one body has been retrieved at a crossing point near Maroy Farm some 40km west of Beitbridge town.

Efforts were underway yesterday to retrieve two more bodies that were spotted on the deeper end of the South African side of the river.

Divers from the two countries failed to retrieve the two bodies on Tuesday owing to the high water current.

Police officer commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo said they were continuing with the efforts to retrieve the bodies.

He said the search was initiated on Monday after two women reported that their husbands had drowned near a crossing point close to Nottingham Estate on Sunday.

“The divers came across three bodies on Tuesday while searching for two men who were reported to have drowned on Sunday.

“However, the bodies we have spotted so far are not of those the two men reported missing. As police, we are still treating them as missing persons.

“The search is still on and during such searches and efforts are being made to retrieve two more bodies that were sighted at the same point at a deeper end.”

He said the police were suspecting there could be more cases of drowning along the Limpopo River, where the level of water has risen significantly.

Police warned people against using illegal crossing points as they risked drowning, prosecution and crocodile attacks.

The incident came a few days after Zimbabwean security rescued six people who got stranded at a crossing point near Dulivhadzimu Gorge when a wooden makeshift boat they were using capsized.

They were part of a group of 15 people who were dumped in the middle of the river by touts who were assisting them to cross.

On spotting some security officials who were patrolling the crossing point, the men ran away.

Water levels have increased in the Limpopo River and many streams around Beitbridge district.

The local Civil Protection Unit has warned communities living around major water bodies, including rivers, to take precautionary measures.

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