A young couple and their seven-day-old baby were swept away as they tried to cross the flooded Sanyati River in Gokwi, Midlands District, in a makeshift dinghy.

The incident occurred on Sunday at around 5pm when the couple from Motukani village led by Chief Chiria in Gokwe North tried to take their baby to the hospital across the river.

Simbarashi Kanyunde (27), his wife Lucia Dzimba (23) and their child lost their lives after the makeshift boat they were using capsized in the middle of the road and was swept away into the river. Midlands Police spokesperson, Inspector Emmanuel Mahoko, confirmed the incident.

“The two wanted to take their sick child to Chidamoyo Hospital to receive treatment for the child. When they reached the Sanyati River, they boarded a boat intending to cross to the other side. But the boat capsized in the middle of the river and the family was swept away,” Inspector Mahoko said.

Villagers found the bodies of Dzimba and her child, who was tied to her back, floating about 700 meters down the river.

The bodies have since been transferred to Gokwi North District Hospital. Police and villagers continue to search for Kanyunde.

“We urge members of the public to refrain from crossing flooded rivers to avoid unnecessary loss of life,” Inspector Mahoko said.

This development comes at a time when police in the governorate warned members of the public against crossing flooded rivers, amid an escalation in drowning cases since the beginning of the rainy season.

“We are seeing an increase in deaths due to drowning since the start of the 2023-24 rainy season. We would like to take this opportunity to alert members of the public not to cross flooded rivers,” Insp Mahoko said. “Instead, people should wait for the rivers to calm before To try to cross. We also discourage children from swimming in flooded pools and rivers and urge parents and guardians to monitor their children.

However, the situation in Gokwi is dire after the Sesame Bridge, which connects North Gokwi and South Gokwi districts, was recently washed away after heavy rains.

Just last week, Bukwe Bridge, which connects Gokwe South District and Divi District, was destroyed by heavy rains leaving villagers stranded.

This development leaves people in those areas isolated because they cannot access South Gokwi, the main commercial centre.

Mr. Isaac Chuma, a teacher from Nimbusia in the northern Gokwe region, said he had been unable to visit his family in Kwekwe for nearly a month due to flooded and impassable rivers.

“Gokwi has many rivers and most of them are flooded. In most cases people have to risk crossing flooded rivers to be able to reach areas like Nemanjwe and Gokwi centre.

“I had to cross a flooded river last week because I wanted to see my family, who I last saw three weeks ago.”

With the help of Gokwe-Sesame legislator Madron Matiza, villagers built a temporary pedestrian bridge that they use to cross the Sesame River.

However, Gokwi North District Development Assistant Coordinator, Mr Stuart Gwatirinda, said the footbridge was no longer safe and could cause another disaster.

“We applaud the legislator for introducing the pedestrian bridge as a stop-gap measure, but its continued use is no longer safe for the public now,” he said.

“We had hoped that the government would have already intervened by now but people are forced to continue using the footbridge because it is the only way into the southern Gokwi area, which we depend on heavily.”

Mr Guatirrenda said some people chose not to use the footbridge and were instead crossing the flooded river.

He added: “There will be vehicles that they use on both sides of the river, and some people, especially businessmen carrying a lot of things, are risking their lives and crossing the flooded river and we fear the worst.”

Mr Guatirrenda said urgent action was needed to repair the bridge, which also continues to be damaged by heavy rains.

He added: “The damage is getting worse day by day on the bridge, and we call on the government to intervene urgently before we lose more lives.”

“In Gokwe North we are cut off from businesses and people are having to risk their lives, hence urgent action is needed on the bridge.”

Mr. Guaterinda said the three local authorities, Gokwi South and North District Council and Gokwi Rural District Council, are working to repair the Gahana Road, an alternative to connect the two affected areas.

“We agreed that the Jhana road, which is a gravel road, would be paved, giving the villagers an alternative. The machinery and equipment are there but we are now working on facilitating the fuel so that the road can be repaired and put to use.

“Only a few kilometers were damaged, and that could be an easy option while we wait for the bridge to be repaired,” Mr Guatirrenda said. Announce

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