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.”
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.