THE confusion surrounding the alleged death of 15 suspected border jumpers trying to cross Limpopo River to South Africa is worrying.
Police in Beitbridge last week told the media that bodies had been retrieved from the river.
The bodies had reportedly been taken to a mortuary in Musina where they were awaiting identification. People with missing relatives had also been asked to come forward to check if they were not among the dead.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police’s officer commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Patrick Majuta was even quoted saying some of the bodies were found hidden in a cave inhabited by crocodiles.
Generally the story generated a lot of interest in Zimbabwe and beyond because naturally when 15 people die in one incident it becomes a big disaster.
However, things have taken a very bizarre twist this week. South African police, who were said to be working with their Zimbabwean counterparts in retrieving the bodies, are denying any knowledge of the deaths.
More intriguingly, Matabeleland South police who cover Beitbridge say they know nothing about the bodies.
Journalists seeking information on this tragedy — if it ever happened — have been trying in vain to get the correct picture from the police.
National police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi has refused to entertain questions about the deaths referring journalists back to Majuta. On the other hand, Majuta has been very unco-operative refusing to speak to journalists that he says he does not know.
The police should know that this is a serious matter and it is incumbent upon them to provide the necessary information.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans leave home everyday trying to cross into South Africa.
The majority try to reach South Africa by crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River and the information attributed to the police on these alleged deaths obviously left a lot of families on the edge.
Police should not play with people’s emotions, but rather put the correct information out so that Zimbabweans can go on with their lives.
If this was just a false alarm, heads should roll in the police force because that would be the highest form of irresponsible behaviour by an institution as strategic as the police.