Harare: A swimming adventure ended tragically on Sunday after a seven-year-old boy drowned while playing with friends at George Hartley Swimming Pool at Stodart Hall in Mbare. Harare City Council corporate communications manager Mr Michael Chideme confirmed the incident yesterday.

He said the boy, Devon Mukwaira, was accompanied by his two friends, one in Grade Zero and the other in Grade Two. “It is true there is a child who drowned, but parents should not allow their children to get to swimming pools unaccompanied,” he said. “Parents should take their children for swimming lessons so that in case of emergency they can help themselves.”

Mr Chideme said the city council had staff to teach both children and adults to swim at all their swimming pools. “In this case it’s unfortunate that the security guard whom we contracted from a private security company to guard the premises was absent when the accident happened,” he said.

The father of the deceased, Mr Noel Mukwaira, blasted the city council for not securing the swimming pool and failure to follow standard procedure to ensure the safety of children.

“There was no guard at the swimming pool and he only came an hour later when I had already gone to report to the police and also the water was not drained since they had closed for winter.”

Mourners at the funeral had no kind words for the Harare City Council. “We blame the city council for not securing their premises and making sure that there is a net on the pool because we can’t be everywhere to monitor our children,” said Mr Darlington Chanakira, a neighbour to Mr Mukwaira.

“How can a guard be absent for more than three hours and give an excuse that he had gone for lunch? After all, the council officials never attended the funeral and did not give assistance in any way.” state media