According to Shakawe police commander, superintendent Goitsemodimo Molapisi, following an alert from the friends, Botswana Defence Force (BDF) rescue swimmers, together with their police colleagues, took the whole afternoon until late evening searching the river for the missing man.
“Despite an extensive search no sign of the missing man was found until it was dark something that forced us to stop the search until the next day when we searched again for hours and later located and recovered the man’s lifeless body around 1pm in the afternoon,” Molapisi said.
“Despite the river being bushy, it has a running water that might expose danger especially at night. This river also has many hippos that can be dangerous at night. We could only search at night with a helicopter but we didn’t have it at that time to rescue the situation,” Molapisi said.
Molapisi said the man’s corpse was recovered about 300 metres from where the friends were swimming.
The deceased’s body is currently at the mortuary at Gumare Primary Hospital awaiting post mortem examination.
Molapisi stated that the weekend was of unpleasant incidents as they are also investigating another drowning case in the Okavango River.
Molapisi said that on arrival at the spot where the aged man had stopped for fishing, they found his canoe boat and suspected he might have been fishing without using it.
He said that they searched for the old man to no avail until it was late. The search was abandoned until the next morning.
“On arrival the next morning around 5am, we met four youthful men aged 21, 23, 25 and 29 who managed to search and rescue the old man. We were not aware of their search but luckily they discovered him alive.
They said that whist searching they heard him screaming in the bush in middle of the river and managed locate him.
“He is currently under observation at Shakawe clinic because due to old age he was retrieved very tired and de-hydrated. He also sustained minor injuries because he was swollen all over the body,” Molapisi said.
While there is no law prohibiting fishing and swimming in the river, Molapisi cautioned members of the public to be careful.
“People this side claim to be used to water but from January to date we have recorded four cases of drowning in which all of them are dead, and with just one survivor.
We always sensitise people at kgotla meetings about the danger of fishing and swimming in this river but that seems to be falling into deaf ears,” Molapisi said.
Also, said the police officer, the river is infested with hippos and snakes, and dangerous wild animals like elephants and buffalos frequently drink from it.