FIVE members of the same family from Bulawayo’s Nketa 6 suburb were burnt to death while three others escaped, one with serious burns, after their rented house caught fire yesterday. Bulawayo’s chief fire officer Richard Peterson said arson could not be ruled out. Musafare Chidembo, 41, survived the fire after he raced out of the house to save his vehicle parked outside, neighbours said. As he did so, his wife, Ester Mazidziwa, 29, his son Brian, 19, daughters Nicollete, 12, and Nicky, 4, and his brother Learnmore Chidembo, 26, were being consumed by the intense fire.
The four-year-old, neighbours said, initially escaped but returned to the house for her mother, when the fire consumed her. Musafare, who owns a public transport company, Sivet Tours, is being treated for serious burns at Mpilo Central Hospital. His other children Mitchell, 9, and Tafadzwa, 12, escaped unhurt.
Musafare’s elder brother, Erasmus, told The Chronicle the fire started after midnight when the children who survived were watching television.
The six-roomed house was completely destroyed by the inferno. The charred bodies had been taken away by the police when our news crew arrived yesterday morning. Scores of Nketa residents were still flocking to the house with some elderly people shedding tears.
As our news crew was conducting interviews, a woman believed to be the mother of one of Musafare’s children who survived the inferno emerged screaming and demanding to know the whereabouts of her son, Tafadzwa.
She cried uncontrollably only to calm down and leave after being told that Tafadzwa was safe with relatives in Nketa 9 suburb. Erasmus said the family was devastated by the tragedy.