Teen ‘burns’ house af­ter al­leged dagga binge, dies


Afam­ily is mourn­ing the death of a teenager af­ter a sus­pected venge­ful fury at her home at Ka-Bhudla.

Mbali Zuma (19) met her grue­some death on Wed­nes­day night af­ter she is sus­pected to have set her grand­par­ent’s home alight. There are, how­ever, two ver­sions of the in­ci­dent as rel­a­tives gave con­flict­ing ac­counts about what hap­pened.

She was al­legedly found ly­ing on the floor with one leg on a ta­ble by a win­dow in a dif­fer­ent room (not where the fire started) and it is sus­pected that she was try­ing to flee from the flames which she al­legedly started.

Ac­cord­ing to first re­spon­ders, the teenager was prob­a­bly over­whelmed by the toxic smoke, as only her hand was singed as she was be­ing lifted out of the room as it rubbed against a hot door frame.

Her nos­trils had char­coal black snoot which also tinged the froth on her mouth. Re­count­ing events lead­ing to the tragic in­ci­dent, her step-mother Thembi Zuma said she did not know what could have led to the young­ster set­ting her room alight, as she had re­cently re­turned from her mother’s home in Mat­sapha.

“Mbali left home be­fore the start of Form Five ex­ams and went to live with her mother,” said the dis­traught step mother, adding that prior to the in­ci­dent, they were await­ing her re­sults.

This then called for the young­ster to travel daily from Mat­sapha to Moyeni where she was school­ing. On the other hand, her younger sis­ter, who was do­ing Form Two, is said to have also fled the homestead where they lived with Thembi and gone to live with a neigh­bour­ing fam­ily nearby. Ac­cord­ing to rel­a­tives who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, the two girls were said to have been al­legedly way­ward as they did not take their step-mother’s coun­sel. Their fa­ther is a sol­dier and is usu­ally away from home. Dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, both girls were still ab­sent from home, even on Christ­mas Day, some­thing which was frowned upon. It is al­leged that upon schools clos­ing, Mbali re­turned to the area and went to live with the neigh­bour where her younger sis­ter also lived. See­ing as their sol­dier fa­ther was around for the fes­tive hol­i­days, the neigh­bour is said to have spo­ken to him about the chil­dren’s si­t­u­a­tion, ne­ces­si­tat­ing a meet­ing at the Zuma fam­ily home, which was held around New Year’s Eve. “The meet­ing was to as­cer­tain how the chil­dren could be brought back home as it was be­com­ing prob­lem­atic hav­ing them spread all over and be­ing a bur­den to neigh­bours,” said a rel­a­tive.


The two sis­ters were not around dur­ing the meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to Thembi.

How­ever, she said she noted that they were around on Wed­nes­day, two days af­ter the meet­ing. “I was re­turn­ing from the ham­mer mill when I heard that the two girls had been brought (pre­sum­ably by the neigh­bour),” said Thembi,

adding that the younger one left im­me­di­ately af­ter be­ing dropped off and said she was go­ing to Maliyad­uma, her grand­mother’s homestead. Thembi said she called her brother, who was also at Maliyad­uma, to make sure that she had ar­rived, and he re­sponded to the af­fir­ma­tive

“I heard Mbali’s voice at around 6:30pm and that’s when I was assured that she had re­turned,” said the step­mother. She fur­ther clar­i­fied that even though her home is within the same com­pound, they lived in dif­fer­ent quar­ters, as Mbali stayed within her grand­par­ent’s house. “At around 8pm, Mbali came to my house to ask if she could have a light-bulb as the house was dark. We told her there was none.”

Due to their strained re­la­tion­ship, Mbali is said to have not said much to her par­ents. How­ever, she had the same look and de­meanour as she usu­ally had af­ter smok­ing dagga. “Dagga has al­ways been an is­sue, as it has been the source of many ar­gu­ments, so we didn’t talk,” said Thembi. Ac­cord­ing to her step mother, it is sus­pected that she then went back to her room and was sup­posed to use a hurricane lamp which is fu­elled with paraf­fin. In less than an hour af­ter Mbali asked for the light­bulb, bil­low­ing smoke was noted. “Her bed had a lot of clothes on it and it looked like she first splat­tered the bed with the paraf­fin from the lamp.”

(Cour­tesy pics)

The house where the tragic in­ci­dent oc­curred. IN­SET: This is what re­mained of Mbali Zuma's bed af­ter the fiery fire burnt her room to ashes.

A pic­ture of the young Mbali Zuma, who died af­ter in­hal­ing smoke in her burn­ing grand­mother's house at KaBhudla on Wed­nes­day night.

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