SH0CKING: Bush inferno burns down Binga homestead…as son dies in Esigodini veld fire

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IN a shocking coincidence, a veld fire burnt down a homestead in Binga, while at almost the same time, the same family was losing a son to a similar inferno in Esigodini.

The tale of two veld fires occurred in different settings on the same day at intervals of a few hours, affecting the same family, leaving many people puzzled. When the Tshuma family woke up last Monday, never in their wildest imagination did any one of them envisage the tragedy that befell them later in the day. However, by the end of the day, the Tshuma homestead situated at Chiziya Malundu Village in Lusulu, Binga, Matabeleland North province, had been reduced to ashes by a veld fire. As if this was not enough, another veld fire at Red Ross Mine in Esigodini, Umzingwane District, Matabeleland South provice, snuffed life out of one of their sons, 18-year-old Luzibo Tshuma.

Another family member, Thomas Bhebhe was lucky to escape with a knee injury while evading the same inferno. With Bhebhe lucky to have been discharged after nursing the injury at Esigodini District Hospital, the family has to contend with losing all they acquired to the inferno and above all losing their loved one, Luzibo. Sunday News visited the site of the fatal inferno and caught up with Nhlanhla Bhebhe who narrated the ordeal. Nhlanhla, from Chiziya Malundu Village, Lusulu is a cousin to the late Luzibo.

“Luzibo Tshuma who is one of the fire victims is my cousin brother. As I was seated in my room here at Red Ross Mine, I got a missed call from my brother back home in Binga. I then returned the call and he told me that he had received news that our homestead was on fire and was on his way to check what had really transpired. After a few minutes I called him and he told me that a fire broke out from a nearby game park and due to the strong winds, it escalated till it got to our homestead. All the houses caught fire and were reduced to ashes with a drum of water that was outside being the only thing spared,” he said.

Barely able to speak, distraught Nhlanhla was soon to receive even more disappointing news.

“In less than 30 minutes I then heard that some people had been burnt to death at the farm as they were trying to put out a veld fire. I immediately stood up and tried calling two of my brothers whom I work with here at Red Ross Mine. However, their phones were not going through. So, I decided to head towards the direction where the victims were said to be. Along the way I met one of them and when I inquired where the other one was, he said he did not know. His phone was no longer getting through and this really got me low. I did not get the chance of going to see the other victims as I had to take this other brother of mine who had a knee injury to Esigodini Hospital. When I came back, I met cars carrying the remains of the victims and my colleagues confirmed that my brother Luzibo Tshuma was positively identified as one of the victims,” said Mr Bhebhe.

Meanwhile, the Esigodini tragedy might have left the nation at a great loss, but for the Mudimba and Mudenda family, yesterday was one of their most difficult days as they buried two brothers side to side. Oliver Mudenda (27) and Ian Mudimba are cousin brothers who both succumbed to the inferno at Esigodini. Speaking at a memorial service held for the 10 victims who have since been described as environmental heroes, Cryton Mudimba, a brother to the two described how difficult it was for them as a family.

“I am the brother to Ian Mudimba, one of the victims who perished in the veld fire. I am also a cousin brother to Oliver Mudenda who also died in the same inferno. As you can see the two are lying side by side. The relationship between the two is a close one such that we will bury them at the same place. Their parents are brother and sister. As such my mother who is Ian’s mother and the second born in their family cannot bury Ian in the absence of her brother who is Oliver’s father and the last born in their family, hence we will bury them next to each other. It is not an easy situation to lose two brothers,” said Cryton.

The Esigodini inferno which robbed the nation of 10 men, saw President Mnangagwa sending his condolence message to the families while the State offered assistance to the victim’s families.

— Sunday News


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