A 10-YEAR-OLD was buried yesterday as three of her siblings were battling for life at Mpilo Central Hospital after they were burnt following an alleged petrol explosion at their home in Bulawayo’s Gwabalanda suburb.
The mother of the four children, Mrs Lydia Mbadzi, told The Chronicle that she ordered five litres of paraffin from a backyard dealer to make floor polish but was given petrol which caused the fatal explosion.
Mrs Mbadzi was also burnt in the explosion and was hospitalised only to leave Mpilo without being discharged after she heard that her daughter Nokuthaba Mbadzi, a Grade Five pupil at Mazwi Primary had died at the same hospital on Friday.
Mrs Mbadzi’s three other children, all girls aged 19, 17 and four years are in a critical condition at Mpilo following the explosion that occurred last week on Sunday, claiming Nokuthaba’s life.
Nokuthaba was buried yesterday at Luveve Cemetery.
The Chronicle yesterday visited the Mbadzi family home in Gwabalanda.
Mrs Mbadzi in the company of her relatives detailed how the petrol, she thought was paraffin exploded burning her and her four children.
She said she sent her children to buy paraffin which she uses to make floor polish but they were sold petrol.
The petrol triggered an explosion as she started making the polish at around 9PM last week on Sunday.
“It was on Sunday last week, there was no electricity so I decided that I should start making my floor polish. Earlier, in the day I had sent my daughters Nokuthaba and her younger sister who is four years old to buy five litres of paraffin worth $75. They brought it but little did we realise that they had been sold petrol as opposed to paraffin. As I started to make the floor polish, I realised that the flame was too intense, with one of my relatives warning that I should try to put out the fire as it was petrol instead of paraffin,” said Mrs Mbadzi, who had bandages on her right hand.
She said the flames jumped to Nokuthaba who rushed into the house, spreading the fire.
There was an explosion and Mrs Mbadzi and her other children were burnt.
“All of my children sustained serious burns as the whole house caught fire and we were taken to the hospital. Sadly, Nokuthaba passed away on Friday and this forced me to leave the hospital even without being discharged by authorities. But the other children are still at the hospital and in a critical condition. They are in pain, they need medication, they need to dress their wounds, we have tried our best but we still fall short,” she said.
“Each of them needs approximately US$150 every two days to dress their wounds. They each drink approximately 10 litres of water just to remain cool. It’s painful for us, it’s even harder when we visit them and see them in such pain. We can no longer do it on our own. We need help. We are asking for help. May well-wishers and Government chip in and help us, we are in desperate need of assistance to take care of them in hospital.”
Mrs Mbadzi said the children also lost all their property including clothes and blankets in the fire and they would need help in that respect.
She said those who are willing to assist the family can get in touch with her on cell number 0782065024 or visit their home at number 5160 Gwabalanda.
She said one of her daughters has even missed her Form Four public examinations due to the injuries she sustained.
Mrs Mbadzi said what pains her more is that the person who sold them the fuel has not paid them a visit even though he stays nearby.
“It could have been a mistake, we are humans. But he has not even said a word in the spirit of ubuntu. We expected that after the news broke about the disaster, they would have approached as a family but nothing has happened. We are not saying we want payment but in the spirit of ubuntu we expect that by now they should have even sent local leadership to come and explain how we ended up having the highly flammable petrol instead of paraffin as we had ordered,” said Mrs Mbadzi.
Mr Mbadzi was not at home during the time of the interview.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Chief Inspector Precious Simango said investigations are in progress.