Saturday 1 September 2018


PROPERTY worth more than $300 000 was destroyed when a huge fire gutted Bulawayo’s biggest flea market, Unity Village.

The flea market, which is located at the corner of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street and 6th Avenue, saw about 37 stalls that were stocked with a variety of goods being destroyed by the fire which broke out at around 9PM on Thursday.

Some traders cried uncontrollably while others fainted as they arrived to the grim scene at the market yesterday morning.

Traders said they lost their stock ranging from clothes, footware, cell phones and laptops.

Bulawayo Fire Brigade Senior Divisional officer Mr Edward Mpofu said preliminary indications point to an electrical fault as the cause of the fire.

He said they were however, still investigating before making a final conclusion.
Mr Mpofu they were called at 9.44PM and arrived at the scene at 9.49PM.

“When the brigade arrived about five minutes after receiving the first call for help, the fire was found well alight and involving about 37 stalls that were well stocked with a variety of goods.
“The brigade observed that the fire burnt with a lot of intensity as most of the structures were deformed. The electrical wiring was also severely affected. The circuit breaker supplying the affected area had three breakers that tripped,” he said.

Mr Mpofu said the premises’ security guards unsuccessfully used a fire extinguisher to deal with the fire before calling the Fire Brigade.

“Investigations reveal that the fire originated from any of stalls 11, 16 or 42 and that most likely as a result of an electrical gadget like a kettle left ‘on’ or due to an electrical fault,” he said.

When The Chronicle visited the flea market yesterday morning, a committee member at the flea market, Mrs Siphokuhle Sibanda, said they lost goods worth over $300 000.

“The brigade arrived on time but they had challenges locating the fire hydrant we have inside, so they had to connect at Joshua Mqabuko and 6th Avenue which increased the damage since most of our goods are flammable. Everything we have worked for was burnt to ashes. Maybe we will end up seeking loans to restock and rebuild the structures. We are starting from scratch,” she said.
Speaking between sobs, one stand owner who preferred anonymity said it felt like she was bereaved.

“For many of us here right now, we feel like we have been robbed of a loved one. This was the bread basket for hundreds of us here with some people being the stand owners while the market has been a source of employment for hundreds as well.

“Being one of those whose stands were burnt down, we lost goods worth $5 000 and above each. Many people here order stock to last them over five months so that we don’t do frequent trips to neighbouring countries,” she said as she sobbed uncontrollably.

Another trader, Mr Zivanai Moyo, said he had also lost important documents that he kept at one of his stands, which include his identity particulars and a motor vehicle registration book.

“People here keep so many things in this market as they spend most of their time here and conduct many business transactions from their stands. Those with affected stands lost virtually everything and it is very sad,” said Mr Moyo. Chronicle


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