Auxilia Katongomara Chronicle Reporter
AN elderly Tsholotsho woman was burnt beyond recognition after a hut she was sleeping in caught fire suspected to have been caused by a paraffin lamp.
The incident happened around 7PM on Saturday and the woman was buried on Monday in Mlevu, Tsholotsho.
A brave villager dragged her husband who was sleeping in another hut that was also engulfed by flames.
Mandisa Sibanda, who is believed to be in her late 70s, had most of her body reduced to ashes in an inferno that razed three huts and a granary in Mlevu Line.
Only her torso was salvaged from the ashes.
Villagers collected her remains in a sack for burial.
Sibanda lived with her husband Qolisani Sibanda and her two grandchildren who had gone to attend an all-night church vigil when the fire broke out.
Although details of how the fire started remain a mystery, there is strong suspicion that it was caused by a paraffin lamp.
A sombre atmosphere engulfed the homestead as family members milled around the burnt huts after the burial.
Chronicle visited the homestead, but some family members were hostile and force marched the news crew out of their homestead.
“We are very sorry, if you had wanted to assist us you could have helped us bury our mother, please just leave us alone,” said Mandi Sibanda, the late woman’s son.
A villager who spoke to Chronicle said they rushed to the Sibanda homestead after seeing a ball of flame flaring from a hut.
“We saw an orange ball of flames reflected against the night sky. We quickly rushed there to try and put it out, but everything was happening so fast.
A brave neighbour Welcome Ndlovu managed to save khulu Sibanda from his hut which had also caught fire,” the villager said.
He said by the time they arrived at the homestead, the roof on Mandisa’s hut had already collapsed and they could not do anything to save her.
It also emerged that Sibanda, who recently suffered a mild stroke, slept in a separate bedroom from his late wife.
The villager said the situation at the homestead was desperate as Sibanda was only left with the clothes he was wearing and all the grain in the granary was reduced to ashes.
Village headman Nkosana Mlevu said the incident was tragic.
“I cannot describe what happened here, she died a very painful death, we are all still trying to come to terms with it,” he said.
Mlevu said from the explanation that he had heard, the late Sibanda sent her grandchildren to ask for paraffin from their grandfather’s hut for her lamp and that was the last time they saw her.