ELEVEN Harare families are now homeless and living in the open after an attempt to burn a snake at plot number 4 Rainham Farm in Dzivaresekwa backfired when two thatched farmhouses they were living in were razed by the fire.
The families, who were all tenants at the plot, also lost property worth thousands of dollars in the inferno. The incident happened on Monday last week.
The victims alleged that their landlady, one Lovejoy Karidza, together with her cousin Blessing Masango and one of the tenants, saw the snake while cleaning an empty swimming pool which they intended to fill with water pumped from a nearby dam. They then attempted to kill the snake by burning it with diesel, but the fire spread to nearby palm trees.
"It was unfortunate that the fire which they started ended up burning down the thatched main house and the cottage destroying property worth thousands of dollars," one of the tenants said.
The matter was reported to Mabelreign Police Station.
When NewsDay visited the plot yesterday, most of the families said they were still pondering their next move. They vowed to stay put and demanded that the plot owner compensate them for the property they lost in the fire.
"The landlady told us that she was looking for a potential buyer who can buy the plot. Our fear is that we might be evicted by the potential buyer," Terence Kasirori, one of the tenants, said.
Another tenant, Patricia Mlima, said: "I do not know how I am going to survive as I was left with nothing. That we are staying in the open at the moment makes it even more worrisome. We appeal to government and well-wishers to offer us any kind of assistance."
Karidza was not available for comment yesterday as her mobile phone was not reachable.