15 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Kamativi Girl Aged 9 Drowns River Bathing - No Running Water At Mining Compound for Six Months

A perennial water crisis at the defunct Kamativi Mine recently claimed the life of a nine-year-old school girl who drowned trying to bath in a local stream.

The victim, a Grade 3 at the Catholic-run St Theresa Primary School, reportedly drowned in full view of schoolmates.

The school is located some 3km away from the mining compound where she lived.

She had reportedly informed colleagues that she was taking a bath in the stream due to the lack of running water at home.

Local councillor Joshua Tshuma confirmed the incident.

"The girl is from Village 21 and was walking home with her friends when she decided to bath in Siabunyanga stream," he said.

"She undressed and went under the bridge but immediately drowned; I think the depth of the stream may have been increased due to the current rains."

Kamativi compound has been without water for the past six months.

Hwange Rural District Council, in whose jurisdiction the settlement falls, says it is facing challenges pumping water from a nearby dam.

This has forced residents, most of them families of ex-mine workers and conscripts at a local National Youth Service (NYS) camp, to rely on borehole water and nearby streams.

Before the rains started, locals were fetching water from unprotected and ponds stagnant since the previous rainy season, exposing themselves to waterborne diseases.

Schools were also reportedly forcing pupils to bring water from home which would be filled into tanks for use during the day.

Meanwhile, most families have resorted to bathing in nearby streams, risking attacks by crocodiles which infest a nearby dam where.

Cllr Tshuma said when the girl drowned, schoolmates rushed home to report the tragedy. The ZRP sub aqua unit was then summoned to recover the body.

"We have just buried the girl, and this is an unfortunate incident," he said.

"I think, as parents, we need to make sure that our children are safe from water bodies whose level is constantly going up because of the rains."

Locals have repeatedly engaged the council for a permanent solution to the water crisis but to no avail.

The council says it is facing financial problems because residents are not paying their bills.

Each household is supposed to pay $5 for water, electricity services as well as maintenance, but many have reportedly been failing to do so because they are no longer employed.

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