NYANGA villagers recently braved the flooded Gairezi River to repatriate the body of a local man who died in Mozambique on a makeshift canoe for burial in Nyamutowa Village.
However, their act of bravery which has gone viral on social media, has landed them in hot soup as they stand accused of flouting laws on the repatriation of dead bodies.
Chengetai Nyamutowa (43) died after being involved in a motorcycle accident in Mozambique together with two others whose conditions were reported to be critical.
A video of about 12 men repatriating the coffin bearing Nyamutowa’s remains in a makeshift canoe has since generated debate, with many applauding the repatriation as a traditional rite, but condemning the use of an undesignated crossing point and crossing a flooded river.
In the video clip, Nyamutowa’s relatives and villagers are heard singing, ululating and applauding the bravery of men who repatriated the body from Mozambique.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Luxson Chananda, said:
“Nyamutowa had travelled to Mozambique when he was involved in an accident on January 23. He was travelling on a motorcycle when the accident happened and died on the spot.
“It was established that Nyamutowa’s family and community members used a makeshift canoe to repatriate the body through the flooded Gairezi River.
“These people face arrest and investigations are already underway to identify the culprits. They should have adhered to the repatriation processes of taking the body through a designated entry point.”
He added: “We have noted with deep concern that parties involved are adults who are supposed to take a leading role in conscientising each other against attempts to cross flooded rivers.
“People need to be more cautious and take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. We have noted with concern major causes of drowning such as experimenting with flooded rivers where people for the fun of it cross rivers holding onto tails of cattle or riding on logs or makeshift canoes as well as misjudgement of the water depth or strength of a current. Deep and fast flowing waters are dangerous and we urge people to be extra cautious.”
Nyanga North Member of National Assembly, Cde Chido Sanyatwe, condemned the act, saying there is need to establish a legal crossing point in the area.
“There is need to establish a legal crossing point in the area than having people risking their lives through using illegal points or flooded rivers. More lives could have been lost through drowning or being swept away by the flooded river. Several drowning cases have been reported in the area,” she said.