Mys­te­ri­ous fires raze down two fam­ily home­steads

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Peter Matika and Ju­dith Phiri Sun­day News Re­porters

VIL­LAGERS from Good­wood in Iny­athi, Mata­bele­land North prov­ince are liv­ing in fear af­ter a se­ries of mys­te­ri­ous fires razed down three huts at a home­stead in four days.

The fires also de­stroyed a sin­gle build­ing at an­other home­stead about 500 me­tres away forc­ing vil­lagers to sleep out­side as they fear that their huts might catch fire in the quiet of the night.

A visit to the area by Sun­day News re­vealed that the in­ex­pli­ca­ble fires started last Mon­day at the Mkhwananzi home­stead.

The Mkhwananzi fam­ily said the fire started af­ter a huge gust of wind that “came from nowhere”, blew a heavy metal cook­ing stand used to bal­ance pots, into the air and sent the fam­ily scur­ry­ing for cover.

“We were seated out­side as we were pre­par­ing our evening meal, when sud­denly a huge gust of wind came from nowhere, so pow­er­ful was the wind that it blew into the air a heavy metal cook­ing stand that we use for cook­ing. It also blew away a metal gauze and huge logs, which just van­ished into thin air. We found the gauze at a nearby bush but the logs as big as they were to this day can­not be found,” said Mrs Siphilisiwe Mkhwananzi.

“The chil­dren, as well as my daugh­ter-in­law ran to a hut for cover. My daugh­ter-in-law de­cided to close the other huts, she saw that the hut was on fire and yelled for the oth­ers to run out. The fire was put out but my daugh­ter started hav­ing trou­ble in breath­ing and said she was be­ing stran­gled by un­seen forces. We were all scared and tried to sit her up so that we could as­sist her but she would get into a fren­zied and hyp­notic state claim­ing she is be­ing at­tacked by forces we could not see. It’s only af­ter we prayed that she calmed down. She hasn’t been in a right state of mind since and says she sees vi­sions of her at­tack­ers on a daily ba­sis,” said Mrs Mkhwananzi.

So strange is the fire that af­ter burn­ing a hut at the Mkhwananzi home­stead it razed down a hut at an­other home­stead si­t­u­ated about 500 me­tres away the fol­low­ing day. Noth­ing was sal­vaged from the fire at the nearby Ndlovu home­stead, when the first in­ci­dent oc­curred.

“These fires just start on their own and it is fright­en­ing. We don’t know what is go­ing on but some­thing has to be done. The first fire oc­curred at around 3pm on Tues­day and an­other hut on the same day started burn­ing at around 6pm,” said Mr Rus­sell Ndlovu.

It was all calm on Wed­nes­day until Thurs­day morn­ing when an­other fire broke out at the Ndlovu home­stead again burn­ing down an­other hut. Mr Ndlovu said their 17-year-old daugh­ter sud­denly started scream­ing say­ing she was see­ing three naked women and a man who wanted to stran­gle her for rais­ing alarm about the fire. The fam­ily said they sought the ser­vices of spir­i­tual heal­ers also known as tsika­mu­tan­das.

“We have been sleep­ing out­side be­cause we fear that we might be burnt alive. We dis­cov­ered when we woke up that an­other hut was on fire but we man­aged to put it out be­fore it dam­aged the hut. That is when we de­cided to seek spir­i­tual as­sis­tance,” said Mr Ndlovu.

“We have lived here for more than 19 years and have never seen such a thing hap­pen, where houses just catch fire mys­te­ri­ously. Our op­tion now is to have spirit medi­ums and heal­ers tell us what is go­ing on,” said a lo­cal, Chief Heis­man Zulu.

One of the tsika­mu­tan­das who iden­ti­fied him­self as Ti­tus Sit­hole, said there was a great evil spirit, which was thirsty for blood and would not stop tor­ment­ing vil­lagers until it was ap­peased.

“This spirit is very dan­ger­ous and is out for blood. There are gob­lins here and the owner will be shame­fully ex­posed and will face the wrath of the vil­lagers,” he said.

Sit­hole as­sured vil­lagers that the fires would not hap­pen again.

How­ever, af­ter hav­ing promised vil­lagers that the sit­u­a­tion was un­der con­trol an­other hut at the Ndlovu home­stead was razed down at around 6pm. The lo­cal coun­cil­lor, Abed­nico Maphosa con­firmed the in­ci­dent yes­ter­day, say­ing vil­lagers were now liv­ing in fear and were de­mand­ing im­me­di­ate ac­tion.

“The sit­u­a­tion is al­most out of con­trol. Vil­lagers are de­mand­ing an­swers and that some­thing be done to con­tain this whole thing. You must un­der­stand that such is­sues are very con­tentious in ru­ral ar­eas. We are work­ing on solv­ing the sit­u­a­tion as we don’t want peo­ple to be­gin point­ing fingers at each other, which might re­sult in blood­shed,” said Clr Maphosa.

Mr Rus­sell Ndlovu shows Coun­cil­lor Abed­nico Maphosa one of the three huts gut­ted by mys­te­ri­ous fires at his home­stead in Bona area, Bubi Dis­trict on Thurs­day. Pic by For­tu­nate Muzara­bani

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