Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
TWO pupils from Cyrene High School drowned in Masiye Dam in Matopo National Park on Tuesday morning in a canoeing accident during a school outing after they decided to paddle the canoe without guides.
What was supposed to be a fun-filled educational day ended in tragedy as Melinkosi Mhlanga (19), a Form Five pupil and Blessing Ngwenya (14), a Form One pupil, drowned when the canoe capsized.
The deceased were among the pupils from the Anglican Church- run boys boarding school who had visited Masiye Camp which is run by the Salvation Army Church.
Five of the pupils who were also in the canoe that capsided were rescued by workers at the Camp.
It could not be established yesterday what really happened leading to the drowning of the pupils as school authorities could not shed light.
A source at the camp who preferred anonymity however said 31 pupils from the school visited the camp on the fateful day.
The source said the pupils were divided into five groups and four of the groups had six pupils each while one had seven.
The groups were then assigned to undertake some tasks but the group which had seven pupils abandoned its task. The pupils instead jumped into a canoe and started peddling it until it capsided leading to the drowning of the pupils.
The workers at the Camp are said to have reacted swiftly to pupils’ distress calls and managed to rescue the other five pupils but the other two had already drowned.
Matabeleland South acting Provincial Education Director Mr Lifias Masukume said yesterday that the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora had dispatched a team to Masiye Camp to investigate the incident.
“Investigations are in progress. At the moment I can’t say much as we are still waiting for a report from the district office. We however want to express our deepest condolences to the school, district and the parents. This is a sad incident and we are with the families in prayer at this difficult time,” he said.
Masiye Camp administrator, Major Shepard Madhaka described the incident as shocking and disheartening.
Major Madhaka said he could not say what exactly transpired as the accident occurred while he was in Harare.
“We still can’t believe it happened. We least expected it as we have received pupils of all ages in their numbers but no such accident has ever happened. We always ensure that children are fully guarded and unfortunately this time an accident occured this way.
“I can imagine the shock to parents who knew that their children were at a boarding school and the next thing they receive such bad news. We are deeply saddened by this untimely loss. We express our heartfelt condolences,” he said.
The bodies have since been taken to United Bulawayo Hospitals for post mortem.
Police could not immediately comment on the incident.
Early this month, a 23-year-old Bulawayo man drowned when a canoe which he and his friend had stolen capsized as they cruised on Umguza River.
The deceased and his friend went to Windermere Hotel, which is located about 15km along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Highway, they took a canoe that was parked in the river and embarked on a cruise without the owner’s permission.
As they were cruising, the canoe capsized and threw them into the water. One managed to swim to safety but the 23-year-old was overwhelmed by the water and drowned.
Article Source: The Chronicle