By Freeman Razemba
A pregnant woman and her four-year-old baby died yesterday afternoon in an inferno that also reduced 55 mud and pole houses to ashes at Lumanda Farm in the Mount Hampden area.
The woman, Shupikai Phiri (39) who was nine-months pregnant, died after she went inside her house to remove some of the family property during the inferno.
Her daughter, Chenai Jiri, also followed her and the two died in the fire.
Property and goods worth thousands of dollars were destroyed by the fire, believed to have been caused by a man only identified as Mudhara Nyati who had left fire unattended in his house after preparing his food.
Mudhara Nyati is reported to have left the fire inside his house and went at a nearby area, where he is employed as a bricklayer. Most of the houses in the area are made of mud and poles and are demarcated by grass structures.
A witness, Reverend Christopher Nenga of One Church based in Avondale in Harare who was attending a funeral near Mudhara Nyati’s house, said he saw the fire and went to investigate.
“I went to investigate and saw that the fire was spreading to other houses. Most of the people tried to extinguish the fire but failed as a result of the strong wind,” he said.
Rev Nenga said he later called the Fire Brigade, but when they arrived the 55 houses, property, goods, clothes, blankets, identification documents and various groceries had been burnt.
“Over 200 people are now homeless as a result of the fire and we have since organized for tents so that they will get temporary shelter,” he said.
Phiri’s husband, Mr Jealous Jiri, said he was not at the scene when the incident occurred.
“I was informed about the fire and went to search for my wife and daughter but could not locate them. A few minutes after searching I later discovered their bodies covered by rubbles,” he said.
Another resident, Mr James Matsika, said when the fire started, he was sitting outside Mr Jiri’s house talking to Phiri.
“She went inside to retrieve some of the property and I think that is when she was burnt while inside. Her daughter also followed but as a result of the commotion no one noticed that the two failed to get out of the house,” he said.
When The Herald arrived at the scene various goods were strewn in a nearby field while the police and the fire brigade were at the scene.
The two bodies had also not been collected.
Zvimba Rural District Council Ward 24 Councillor Baison Mavuto, said it was an unfortunate incident and appealed for assistance.
“I would like to appeal to anyone, churches, organisations and the authorities to please assist as most of these people are now homeless and they don’t have any food, clothes and blankets among other things,” he said.
The settlement area has over 4 500 people and most of them are not employed.
Police could not comment by late yesterday. The Herald