Monday 19 September 2022


THE family of a fire fighter who succumbed to burns he suffered while on duty at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) two weeks ago, suspects foul play in his death.

Fanyana Dick Shuluma (55) was putting out a veld fire when 65 percent of his body was burnt.

The firefighter, who is survived by a wife, two sons and a daughter died two days after the incident at Mater Dei Hospital.

In an interview, the deceased’s wife Ms Pretty Ncube told Chronicle that she does not understand how her husband could have been burnt by a “grass fire” because he was an expert in firefighting, a job he had done for nearly a quarter of a century.

“My husband had been a fire fighter for the past 24 years. He knew how to deal with fires. If it had been a house fire and l was told something fell on him and trapped him then maybe l would find it easy to believe. However, to be told he was burnt to a point where he looked like fried meat by a grass fire is really giving me a hard time to believe. I know when the time has come nothing can prevent anyone from leaving. However, I am really not satisfied with the way my husband’s death is said to have happened,” she said.

Ms Ncube said the narrative around how her husband got burnt is still not clear as no one is telling her a clear story.

“I am told they went to attend the fire as a team. From what I have always been told by my husband the team is supposed to cover up for each other so where were colleagues who were supposed to cover for him when he got burnt? We are however being told his team did not realise that he had been burnt and was no longer with them till they had moved for something like a kilometre from where he was burnt. How could a team continue working and not realise one of them was down? The team called an ambulance which came and ferried him to Mater Dei Hospital where he was immediately put under Intensive Care. All this happened at round 2PM but I was only notified about the incident at around 5PM. My question is why did they take so long to come and tell me about the incident? I am filled with a lot of questions which his bosses are failing to answer,” added Ms Ncube.

Ms Ncube said council promised the deceased’s family that they would talk about compensation since he died on duty.

“Even if they give me money that will fill this entire house I would still not be happy before someone tells me exactly how my husband got burnt on that day,” she said.

With tears in her eyes and with a voice full of pain and sorrow Mr Shuluma’s daughter, Ms Anita Shuluma (23), the second born and only daughter in a family of three said she will dearly miss her father because he was her everything.

“My father was my advisor, he was my hero, he was my friend before being a father to me. I used to call him ‘shuz’ a nickname we gave him as a family. He was so proud of me as his only daughter when I passed my examinations and was looking forward to my graduation which is supposed to take place next month. I am really sad because he will not be here to watch me graduate and make him proud. I am sad because l did not get to spend a lot of time with him during his last days since he would get home when it was late and we would be sleeping. I really do not understand the circumstances surrounding his death and the way his body was burnt. I hope justice is served for my father and we are given clear details on how he passed on,” she said.

She said the last connection she felt with her father was when he was at the hospital.

“We went to see him at the hospital and the nurse told us I could speak to him as he could understand and hear us. As I was speaking to him, I saw him move his hands and legs. It was like he was responding to me. That was the last connection l felt with my father as he died a day later,” said Miss Shuluma.

The late Shuluma’s elder sister Mrs Addie Khumalo said her brother was a respectful man. He got along with everyone he came across in life and never gave people any problems when he was growing up, she added.

With tears falling uncontrollably, silent sobs tearing her within, as she continuously used her towel to wipe them, Mrs Khumalo said her brother was a happy soul.

 “We have really lost a good man. I do not know how his family will be able to move on from this, especially his children. My brother was a peaceful happy soul from when we were still young. He never gave our parents any trouble as he always listened to everything he was told,” she said.

 Bulawayo Fire Brigade acting chief fire officer, Lynos Phiri said the post mortem showed that Shuluma died from burns but they are yet to do thorough investigations into events leading to his death.

“A post mortem was done and it showed that he died due to burns. However, we are still to conduct thorough investigations to try and find out what really led to him getting burnt,” said Mr Phiri.

Bulawayo chamber secretary, who is also the acting town Clerk, Sikhangele Zhou said she would comment today when she gets a report on the incident. Chronicle


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