TWO Dangamvura men di€d last weekend after diving into a Fern Valley Dam in a bid to rescue a girl who was about to drown during an exorcism ceremony.
Paul Mupukuta (44) and Clifford Mhlanga (68)’s bodies were retrieved by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Sub-Aqua Unit on Monday.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Norbert Muzondo revealed that Mupukuta approached a traditional healer, Mbuya Monica Mhlanga of Area 3, Dangamvura, to assist him in finding a solution to a spiritual challenge that was allegedly affecting his family.
The parties proceeded to Fern Valley Dam for a cleansing ceremony where Mupukuta and Mhlanga eventually met their fate.
It is alleged that during the cleansing ceremony, Mbuya Mhlanga who was cleansing Mupukuta’s 15-year-old daughter said she was feeling weak.
The young girl started drowning and her father jumped into the water to assist her.
Mhlanga also dived in to rescue his wife.
Gogo Mhlanga and Mupukuta’s daughter survived, while Mupukuta and Mhlanga couldn’t make it.
A witness, Prosper Mugari, said he was in his garden when he heard cries for help.
He rushed to the scene and managed to assist Mupukuta’s daughter.
“I jumped into the water. Together with the assistance of Monica Mhlanga who was now standing on the banks of the dam, we managed to rescue the girl,” said Mugari.
A Fern Valley resident, Elsa Mvududu (76) said: “After being rescued by Mugari, the girl came to my house drenched, shivering and in a state of shock. She narrated what had happened and I gave her clean clothes to wear and a blanket to cover herself. I then informed police officers of what had happened.”
The councillor for the area, Calvin Matsiya, said Fern Valley Dam was established as a recreational reservoir but poor maintenance has turned it into a pool of d€ath.
“Three separate incidents have happened at the dam in recent years. Lives are being lost. We urge people to avoid visiting the dam for religious, recreational or fishing purposes without permission from the local authority.
“People must seek guidance before they partake in any activities there, including weddings and parties,” he said.
However, some superstitious members of the community attributed the drowning of the duo to mermaids that are reportedly in the dam.
A self-proclaimed spiritual healer only identified as Banda said: “I am a believer in mermaid spirits. I am a worshipper of marine spirits and we should have been given a chance to carry out our rituals to save the lives of the victims before the sub-aqua unit was called.
“If we had carried out an overnight vigil at the dam, the two men would have popped out of the water and slept safely on the reeds like the Biblical Moses for us to find them alive and healthy the following day.
“A cleansing ritual should be done at the dam as a matter of urgency,” said Banda.
A local resident who preferred anonymity said: “We have come across people leaving different cloths, jewellery, expensive cutlery and foodstuffs such as meat and sweets. All these items find their way into the dam. Some pour opaque beer and wine into the dam as offerings, thereby threatening the dam’s aquatic life.
“We have told our children to stay away from the dam and not to take anything away from it as they can be baits put there by those who frequent the dam to recruit people into their cults.”