Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
A FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy from Tsholotsho was found dead in a bush after he got lost on his way home and succumbed to hunger and the cold that was experienced throughout the country last weekend.
Simon Vundla of Barbra Nkomo’s Homestead, Zandile village under Chief Mathuphula was found more than 20KM away from his home.
He disappeared last Friday and his body was discovered by villagers following a search on Saturday afternoon.
A post-mortem report says the boy died due to cold, dehydration and hunger.
Last week, the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) warned that the country was going to experience the coldest weather so far this year with temperatures expected to fall to seven degrees Celsius over the past weekend.
It said as a result, moderate to severe ground frost was expected due to what it termed “chaotic weather” and recommended frost protection, training and awareness to be enhanced by responsible authorities.
On the boy’s death, Ngamo village head Mr Johnson Ncube said his body had no visible marks, but there are questions over how he could have travelled for 20 km from home alone.
“Villagers suspect he may have died because of the intensely cold weather that was experienced in most parts of the country. It is questionable for a five-year-old to walk more than 20KM, especially considering that Simon is said to have complained of hunger and that he felt weak. Maybe he was enticed with food and later killed,” he said.
Mr Ncube said Simon left home in the company of his grandmother and six other grandchildren to fetch water from a borehole.
“At the borehole, Simon complained of hunger to his sister Sithembiso Khanye who told him to go back home while others remained playing there. When the rest of the family arrived home they discovered that Simon had not come back.
“Villagers were informed and they embarked on a search but did not find him until it was dark. On the following day, the search continued until they found his lifeless body on a road side in Mposini area. He wore only a vest and underwear with no shorts or trousers,” he said.
Chief Mathuphula said the boy’s death was unfortunate.
“We feel there is more that could have been done as the child was complaining of hunger, not feeling well but was then sent back home alone. The child may have collapsed on the way and was then left at the mercy of the cold that we experienced a few days back. We must as a community protect the vulnerable ones, which include the young and the elderly. I have seen many of our children walking long distances to school in the early hours on a cold morning, barefoot and shaking from the cold. We must protect children.”
Matabeleland North police spokesperson Inspector Siphiwe Makonese said she had not yet received that report. — @winnie_masara