Tragedy as Scots toddler found drowned in garden while visiting grandparents in Zimbabwe

Tributes have been paid to a ‘precious’ three-year-old Glasgow boy who tragically died in a freak accident whilst visiting his grandparents in Zimbabwe.

TJ Mathe, from Knightswood, was found unresponsive after having drowned in rain water in an unused pool in his grandparent’s garden on March 30.

The Knightswood Early Years Center pupil had traveled to the southern African country without his mum and dad on March 26 to meet his gran and grandad for the first time.

His parents Edwin and Medina Mathe were unable to go on the trip with him due to immigration constraints, so TJ flew over with his uncle.

The couple’s lives have been turned upside down by the death of their ‘precious’ little boy who has been described as ‘their world’.

Edwin, who works at Gartnavel Hospital, said they are trying to get through each day.

He added: “Some days are better. Some are not so good. Our memories of our son are helping us through.”

Medina’s cousin Tichawona Dauramanzi said the couple are heartbroken.

He told the Daily Record: “They are absolutely devastated. TJ was their life. He was so precious to them.

“Their whole world revolved around TJ and what’s happened has absolutely shattered them. He was their only child and they loved him dearly. We all did.

“TJ’s death has shocked and saddened all of us. It’s a tragic, very sad situation.

“Because of issues with Edwin and Medina’s Visas they weren’t able to travel with TJ and now they haven’t been able to go over to be with their boy or to find out what exactly happened. All they know is what we have been told on the phone.”

Tichawona said a post-mortem examination was carried out and TJ’s cause of death was put down as an accidental drowning.

He added: “TJ was staying with Medina’s parents when the accident happened. We are told he had been playing with local kids and because it had rained the night before there was some water in the unused pool.

“The kids were playing around in it and were going between each other’s houses. When TJ hadn’t been seen for a little while, family members started to look for him. This is when he was found in the pool. We are told he drowned.”

Gemma Garbett, TJ’s keyworker at Knightswood Early Years Center set-up a fundraising page to help raise money to bring his body home to Scotland.

Posting on the GoFundme page, Gemma wrote: “I was a keyworker to TJ who sadly passed away whilst on a visit to Zimbabwe to meet his Gran for the very first time.

“He was tragically taken away too soon.

“TJ, who was just three, has touched the lives of so many and he will live on in our thoughts.

“I hope we can help his family who now have the difficulty of working between two countries to get TJ home to rest.

“Such a lot for this family to deal with as well as the stress of trying to ensure their little boy gets home.

“Anything donated would be appreciated not just by me and everyone who knew TJ, but I know his family would be eternally grateful.”

Thanks to the £3700 raised, TJ’s body is being flown home to Scotland today.

Tichawona said the family have been overwhelmed by the community’s generosity.

He added: “The kind donations have allowed us to bring TJ home to his heartbroken mum and dad and for that we are eternally grateful. Everyone has shown Edwin and Merina so much love and the messages we have read about TJ have been lovely. Hearing what people have to say about him shows what a special, loving little boy he was.”

A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “Staff at the nursery have sent their heartfelt condolences to the family and started the funding page in response to their parents wanting to do something in support.”

To donate click here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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