COMMUNITIES in diamond-rich area of Chiadzwa in Manicaland province are living in fear of mermaids reportedly sighted at dams built by mining companies.
Earlier this year, a secondary school student was allegedly snatched by mermaids at a dam near his school, only to resurface after 30 minutes. He has since retraced the mysterious journey the creatures travelled with him to a committee set up to probe the occurrence.
The student, from Gandauta secondary School in the Chiadzwa area recently talked about his ordeal to a team probing and inspecting the damage caused by Mbada Diamonds and Diamond Mining Company (DMC) mines.
The committee, comprising officials from Enviromental Management Agency (Ema), District Administrator's office, ministry of Education, Mutare Rural District Council, ministry of Health and President`s Office together with a local team which included a councillor, traditional leaders (Headman Chiadzwa and his village heads), villagers, school heads and other two school staff members, ward youth officer and School Development Committee members compiled a detailed report, a copy of which is with the Weekend Post.
The committee's report said: "The student reportedly went missing and when he came out of the dam he narrated what had happened to him and how he got under the water and all he said was related to being taken by a mermaid. This happened on January 8, 2014."
The report which was submitted to the Provincial Ema Manager by the committee says the student was reportedly taken by mermaids in a dam adjacent to two schools.
"Mermaids were reportedly seen in the dam that was built (by the mining companies) and this is instilling fear in both the school staff and students."
The schools have an enrolment of about 300 pupils, including Early Childhood Development (ECD) classes, the report said.
Mermaids are creatures with an upper body of a woman and the tail of a fish.
They live in oceans, dams and rivers. Although mermaids are thought not to exist, a few of them have reportedly been sighted in Zimbabwe. In some instances, mermaids are believed to be associated with evil spirits with some said to be used in witchcraft, while some people worship them.
They are said to be responsible for drowning, harassing and abducting people who come close to the water points. They are said to sing to people and also carry humans down to their underwater kingdoms.
In Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, it is said that they forget that humans cannot breathe underwater, while others say they drown men out of spite.
In Zimbabwe, traditional healers have brewed beer to rid the mermaids at dam sites to pave way for construction. In Gokwe, for example, construction workers at Gokwe Dam complained about their machines breaking down under mysterious circumstances, blaming the mysterious mermaids.
Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) Board Chairperson Ben Matambudze said the unconventional dams were built besides the school and that the other, a little further up the river was meant to stop water that was flowing into DMC's areas of operation. The report confirms that both Mbada Diamonds and DMC were responsible for construction of the dams.
Many say the dams are a danger to the downstream schools.
"The dams were constructed by DMC using soil. There is a danger that should the soil give in, the nearby schools and the people living downstream will be washed away," Matambudze said.