Friday 10 June 2022


TWO siblings from Middle Sabi, Chipinge, were severely burnt recently after they tried to use hand sanitiser to light a fire to prepare their breakfast.

Kumbirai (16) and Tawanaishe Ndunduma (12) had to be rushed to Chipinge District Hospital where they are recuperating.

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser contains a certain percentage of the active ingredient ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol, which is highly flammable.

Narrating what transpired on the fateful day, Kumbirai said they were burnt by the fire after her brother tried to use the sanitiser to ignite a fire to cook their breakfast.

“We were home and our mother was away at the fields. My brother, Tawanaishe, started complaining of hunger. He decided to light a fire to prepare breakfast.

“He tried to set the fire, but failed. He went to the dining room and took a container of hand sanitiser so that he could use it as fuel to start the fire. When he lit the fire, the container with the sanitiser caught fire. He tried to throw away the container, but some of the sanitiser spilled on his body and he was engulfed by the fire.

“The container burst, producing a deafening sound. I tried to rescue my brother, but was also burnt all over the body.

“I screamed for help and our neighbours came to our rescue. They used tree branches to extinguish the fire. I think Tadiwanashe wanted to copy what other neighbours do when they use sanitiser to set the fire,” she said.

The siblings’ mother, Mrs Hilda Ndunduma who happens to be the village health worker in Chipangayi, said the community receive hand sanitiser from a local company and some are now abusing it.

“I think my children tried to copy what other villagers do as they use hand sanitiser as fuel to set fires for domestic use.

“On this fateful day, I had questioned my children on why the bottle of sanitiser was half empty. Little did I know that they were using it to set fire,” she said.

Mrs Ndunduma added: “Since the outbreak of Covid-19, our community receives hand sanitiser from a local company.

“Almost every villager is receiving about a litre of sanitiser every month from GreenFuel, while employees of the company receive about 5l of hand sanitiser,” said Mrs Ndunduma.

The hand sanitiser is highly flammable due to its ethanol component. Some are using it as alcohol, while other villagers use it when setting fire for cooking.

Mrs Ndunduma is appealing for help to meet her children’s medical bills.

Ms Nyasha Ndunduma pays a visit to her sibling Kumbirai at the hospital

“It is almost 10 days (as of Wednesday) since my children were admitted in hospital. The medicine they require is very expensive. Some of the drugs are not available at the hospital.

I need to buy gauze bandages daily which are used to dress Tawanaishe’s wounds. His legs sustained serious burns. Some injections are very expensive and the hospital told us that the patients cannot share them. So far I have used close to US$250 for the children’s treatment.

“I am grateful for the efforts being made by the hospital staff to assist my children. Kumbirai is recovering well. My husband who accompanied us here has since been admitted as well after being diagnosed with sugar diabetes,” said Mrs Ndunduma.

Chipinge District Medical Officer, Dr Ozzy Matekenya said alcohol based solutions are highly flammable and need to be kept away from fire.

“Sanitiser must not be kept in a place that is not well ventilated. It should also be kept away from direct flame or any place that is potentially explosive.

“Individuals should not keep high quantities to sanitiser at home and should also follow sanitiser usage precaution measures,” he said.

Dr Matekenya added that sanitiser can be a health hazard if not used properly, especially when one inhales it.

Those willing to assist the Ndunduma siblings can contact Mrs Ndunduma on 0771970750. Manica Post


Post a Comment