A MAD rush by scores of Lupane residents to experience the magnificent spilling of the Lupane-Bubi Dam, which created a scenic little waterfall, a spectacular phenomenon last witnessed in 2016, ended in tragedy when a nine-year-old boy dived to his death.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)-owned dam started spilling last Thursday after heavy rains pounded the Matabeleland North capital among other areas in the country.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited dam and there was no activity save for a handful of fishermen.
In what residents said were scenes reminiscent of holiday resorts, women, both old and young, were spotted clad in bikinis and they enjoyed the spectacle. According to residents, some men were also drinking and braaing meat.
This was all in violation of lockdown regulations meant to stop the spread of Covid-19 that require those not providing essential services to stay at home.
A Zinwa official who witnessed the incident said: “People threw all caution to the wind as they dived into the spillway oblivious of the danger of either drowning or being attacked by crocodiles. Some women clad in bikinis could be seen swimming in the pool while others were busy drinking beer and braaing meat.”
Another local resident, Ms Ruth Malaba, said people were driven by the hype and excitement to witness the dam spilling.
“There are no recreation facilities in Lupane and the moment people heard that the dam was spilling, they immediately flocked there in droves to witness the spectacle. The last time this dam spilled was in 2016 during which we rushed to catch fish,” she said.
“We usually come here every day for fishing and I can tell you that only few days ago, this place was teeming with people who had come to witness the spilling of the dam. Some were busy swimming and sadly in the process a local boy drowned,” said another resident, Mr Nkululeko Dlamini.
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Glory Banda confirmed that a boy drowned following the rush to the spillway.
“We are concerned as police that people are violating lockdown regulations by going to congregate in dangerous places, which has resulted in this unfortunate incident.
We urge parents and guardians to be on the lookout for their children,” she said.