By Herbert Sseryazi
Three children have reportedly drowned in Lake Victoria at Nangoma landing site in Mpunge sub-county, Mukono district.
The children had been sent by their parents to collect firewood in the forest which is on the shores of Lake Victoria, locally known as Lake Nalubaale.
The children have been identified as Jemimah (9) who was a primary five pupil, Sanyu Nabirye (12) who was a primary six pupil and Mariam Nakimbugwe (15) who was a senior two student.
Residents speculate that the girls from different homes decided to go for a swim before returning home with the firewood.
Nabirye’s mother Betty Nalwanga confirmed that her 12-year-old daughter had sought permission to go collect firewood with her friends before leaving home. Nabirye left her mother’s home at around 2pm.
A fisherman named Steven Mpiima said that, “When you see where these children died from, it’s not far from the mainland but they died due to lack of swimming skills.”
It is believed that a sudden strong wind may have been responsible for overpowering the girls in the water who then drowned.
Mpiima said that the two younger girls were seen attempting to rescue their friend Nakimbugwe before they were overwhelmed by the waves too.
Once the alarm was raised, a group of five fishermen launched a search for the bodies of the three girls which were recovered by 5pm on Wednesday evening. Richard Okungi was part of the team that attempted to rescue the girls.
Nabirye’s mother Betty Nalwanga said that she was informed of the accident by Nabirye’s friends who came to her home wailing. They came to her home after almost an hour after Nabirye had left to collect firewood.
Outgoing Mukono district chairperson Andrew Ssenyonga warned children to desist from playing in the lake without adult supervision. He urged the children and onlookers who had gathered at the scene of the incident to be more careful.
He called upon government to speed up the process of opening schools so that children can be kept busy and away from such avoidable accidents.
Mukono police has begun investigations into the incident.