TRAGEDY struck the sprawling suburb of Vengere in Rusape when a Grade Five learner drowned in an un-barricaded septic tank pit, much to the chagrin of residents who have been calling on the local authority to complete the project.

The Manica Post understands that a group of young boys teamed up on Sunday for a swimming expedition at the pool.

Sadly one of them drowned.

Police identified the deceased as Shelton Chagwedera (10) who was doing Grade Five at Vengere Primary School.

The pool is behind Vengere Primary School, off the dusty Chiduku Road, where Rusape Town Council is constructing a community septic tank.

Shelton was buried at his parents’ Buhera rural home on Tuesday.

Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Nobert Muzondo confirmed that Shelton was swimming with other boys when tragedy struck.

“On January 29, 2023, at the G-Section of Vengere, Shelton Chagwedera (10) and his friends were swimming in a disused pit and drowned.

“One of his friends rushed to inform Ms Shelly Sakala, who made a police report.

Police attended the scene, retrieved the body and conveyed it to Rusape General Hospital for a post-mortem,” said Inspector Muzondo.

Shelton’s father, Mr Edwin Taurai Chagwedera laboured to restrain his tears as he spoke to The Manica Post.

The magnitude of despair in his eyes was enormous.

“Well, he is dead. It cannot be reversed. He is gone, however tough and unbelievable. The council has apologised to the family and they rendered assistance to show their contrition. We cannot reverse it, it was an accident. I cannot say much now,” said Mr Chagwedera.

Rusape Town Council chairman, Councillor Blessmore Pambureni apologised to the bereaved family, adding that the local authority took responsibility for the tragedy.

He said they had engaged and worked well with the family to ensure Shelton’s decent burial.

Acting town secretary, Mr Togarepi Nerwande, the council chairman and some councillors attended Shelton’s burial in Buhera.

“It is unfortunate that we dug the pit with a view to construct a community septic tank for the Chiduku Service Industrial Stands early last year, but the project stalled due to lack of funding.

“Initially, we erected a barricade around the pit to forewarn residents about the possibility of danger. However, the barricade was removed and as the pit was filled with rain water, kids started swimming in the pool, leading to the tragedy.

“We, therefore, take responsibility and offer both our condolences and apology to the bereaved family. A promising life was needlessly lost and we are really sorry and apologetic for the unfortunate incident.

“To show our human face, we assisted with a coffin and a standard hearse to ferry the body to Buhera. We also provided a bus and a lorry to carry mourners for burial,” said Mr Nerwande.

Vengere Primary head, Mr Jadnos Chinouya said Shelton was a sociable and brilliant learner.

“The incident happened last Sunday when there were quite a number of boys from different schools in the town. The open pits behind the school that are filled with water ordinarily attracted young boys to experiment.

“They went there to swim and the deceased drowned. One of his friends rushed to alert members of an apostolic sect who were worshiping nearby. They rushed to the scene and retrieved the body. They alerted the parents and rushed Shelton to Rusape Genera Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

“Shelton was in Grade Five. He was a good and likeable boy. From the reaction of other learners, he was quite a sociable boy and was brilliant in class,” said Mr Chinouya.

School children and teachers also attended the burial.