A 26-year-old Bulawayo woman miraculously escaped from her burning bedroom and rescued her four-year-old son after her jealous ex-husband allegedly doused them with petrol before torching the room they were sleeping in.
The incident occurred at around 10PM on Thursday last week at the woman’s rented house in New Lobengula suburb.
Although Ms Lecia Nyoni and her son escaped unscathed, she lost her bed, linen and clothes and shoes all valued at R10 000 when the room caught fire. The suspect, Sindiso Siziba (33), has since been arrested on charges of attempted murder.
Chronicle yesterday visited Ms Nyoni’s house and she narrated her ordeal. The victim is still traumatised and struggling to come to terms with what transpired on the day.
Ms Nyoni said since the incident she is now struggling to have proper sleep and experiences a torrent of nightmares.
“I was sleeping with my four-year-old son when I felt some fluid flowing down my body. Upon waking up I smelt petrol and within minutes the entire room was in flames and immediately I grabbed my son and stormed out of the room and screamed for help,” she said.
“I don’t even know why my ex-husband resorted to doing such an evil thing despite that we have both moved on and its two years now since we parted ways.”
The woman said her attacker opened the window and poured petrol into the room. When she woke up the house was in flames but she escaped with her son.
She said she alerted her neighbours and other tenants and they rushed to the scene to render assistance. Ms Nyoni, who initially thought the intruder was a thief, said she was shocked when she discovered that it was her ex-husband behind the fire.
“After the incident, Siziba fled from the scene and he was carrying the fuel container with him. One of the neighbours managed to catch up with Siziba and they wrestled until he managed to subdue him. They apprehended him and took him to the police station leading to his arrest,” she said.
Ms Nyoni suspects her ex-husband could have been driven by jealousy after he found out that she had found new love.
Chronicle observed that the walls of the room were still black due to the fumes and some of the damaged window panes had been repaired.
Both Ms Nyoni and her landlady, Ms Charity Moyo told Chronicle that they were now living in fear after they learnt that the suspect has been released on bail.
“We are no longer comfortable in this house as we suspect that Siziba could return to finish me after failing to achieve his mission in the first attempt. It is quite shocking for the courts to release such a dangerous criminal,” said Ms Nyoni.
Siziba appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya last week and he was remanded out of custody to August 13 on $1 000 bail on attempted murder charges.
According to a recent Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) report, cases of domestic violence cases have increased by more than 100 percent during the ongoing Covid-19 induced national lockdown.
The cases have shot up to about 1 200 in April, compared to an average of 500 usually reported in a month.
Institutions that fight against abuse have reported that psychological, emotional, verbal, physical, economical and other kinds of abuse have increased against both sexes as perpetrators spend every hour of the day locked down with their victims.
ZGC noted with concern the increase in gender-based violence (GBV) cases. Following the spike in GBV and domestic violence cases countrywide, police in Bulawayo have condemned the crimes and called for calm and harmony in households during the indefinite lockdown meant to avert the spread of Covid-19.