By Johannes Chin’ombe
Masvingo, November 24, 2016 – POLICE in Masvingo have come under fire for allowing civilians to retrieve the body of a supermarket manager from a river while they stood aside.
Emmanuel Mwale, who was manager with a Spar supermarket in the city, was reported missing few days ago with his body found in Mucheke River.
It is suspected he had tried to drive through the flooded Chimusana Bridge on his Nissan X-Trail vehicle but the vehicle was dragged by the force of the water into the river.
A local publication, TellZim News also highlighted that Mwale could have been drunk as he had been seen earlier on the fateful day taking alcoholic at a local beer hall with a friend.
But while the lifeless body of the retail store manager could itself have been enough an incident to draw the attention of onlookers, some police details and a fire services crew almost stole the limelight for all the wrong reasons when they stood aside looking puzzled while civilians did their job.
Three brave volunteers dived into the pool to retrieve the body.
“How could the police and fire brigade stand clueless in such a scenario? I could not believe it. I think that is the reason why our public institutions have failed to foster development in Zimbabwe,” said one said at the scene of the tragedy.
Others however felt it was time council upgraded the narrow Chimusana Bridge which had become a more convenient for motorists trying to avoid traffic congestion.
“Council should just consider upgrading this bridge because it has become a major route for motorists. Such incidences should be avoided in best ways possible,” another onlooker added.
Mwale had been missing for two days from the day he was retrieved.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Charity Mazua said police were in the process of investigating the manager’s whereabouts after he was reported missing.
She however refused to comment on the police’s failure to do their job when the body was retrieved from the river.
“Investigations were still underway until it finally emerged Mwale had drowned,” she said.
“I cannot answer on police action as I was not on the scene though we were able to swiftly attend to the report of Mwale’s missing and the scene he was found.”
However, a fire services officer said crew members were taught to first assess situations before they could attend to them.
“We do not just execute duties without practicing caution,” said one officer who refused to be named for professional reasons.