Monday 10 October 2022


What started as a happy house play ended tragically after a fire started by three minors engulfed the fields and torched a kitchen hut, leading to the death of a 32-month-old baby boy at Chemhanza Village in Shamva.

Little Junior walked to his death after following his grandmother into the burning hut.

The toddler, who was standing with his grandmother, sneaked into the hut unnoticed by his grandmother who wanted to remove a gas tank from the burning hut.

It is said the baby only screamed once and ducked under the sofa close to the door where his charred remains were later found.

The fire was accidentally started by the pair, aged nine and 10, from the neighbouring homestead who were doing house play while guarding their garden against goats.

The grandmother, Shelter Chinyoka, sustained serious burns trying to re-enter the hut to help the baby. As the smoke and flames engulfed the field and torched the hut, people tried to put out the fire using buckets of water.

When The Herald visited the village, a sombre atmosphere engulfed the Chinyanganya family as they struggled to come to terms with the death of the toddler. Mrs Cyszarine Derere-Chirau said a tonne of maize, sofas and other household property, was reduced to ashes.

“We accepted that the incident was an accident. My sister, mother to the deceased child, accepted the incident,” she said.

“She is preparing to write her examinations to supplement her subjects. We are hoping that she can be strong enough.

“We are witnessing a lot of veld fires in this area due to a lot of biomasses. We lost cattle to January disease and there’s no livestock to graze.”

Gogo Heridha Chihoyi said the incident happened at round 11am on Saturday.

“After discovering that the toddler had entered the burning hut, the grandmother wanted to get back into the hut again and assist the child. She was restricted by her aunt and she sustained serious burns,” she said.

“She was disturbed by the incident to the extent of refusing to seek medical attention. She insisted that there was no point in being treated when her grandson was dead.”

In a similar incident at Kachere Village under Chief Musana, two minors were playing and took a burning log into a grass-thatched bathroom.

The incident happened at around 11am on September 12 this year.

The bathroom caught fire and the minors started screaming while inside.

Ms Shelly Mazhambe rescued them, but they had already suffered serious burns.

One of the minors died upon arrival at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare while the other one was admitted and in a serious condition.

Environmental Management Agency information and publicity officer, Mr Maxwell Mupotsa, consoled the family and said a loss of life in any situation was devastating.

He said since July this year, 96 967 hectares have been destroyed by fire.

EMA has recorded 67 fire incidents.

“Most of the recorded fire incidents were caused by land clearing as farmers prepare for the 2022/23 farming season,” he said.

“We are doing awareness campaigns around the province. We are also training and resuscitating fire-fighting teams at village and ward levels.

“Fire-fighting equipment including fire beaters, knapsacks and pressurised fire extinguishers have been distributed to trained communities.”

Mr Mupotsa said their advanced fire information system, which can pick up any fire 250 square meters through satellite, has improved their response to veld fires.

He added that EMA was now using drone technology in veld fire assessment to ensure all inaccessible areas can be monitored. Herald


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