Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent—
A TODDLER was burnt beyond recognition while his granny escaped with serious burns after their family home was gutted by fire in Bulawayo’s Nketa suburb. The fire is suspected to have been ignited by the deceased’s four-year-old brother who was playing with matches.
Olwethu Moyo, 2, died on the spot while his brother escaped to safety.
The incident happened on Friday.
Their grandmother, Sithabiso Bhebhe, was rushed to the United Bulawayo Hospitals where she was treated and discharged.
She suffered burns on her face and left arm.
The boys’ mother is said to be in South Africa.
The Chronicle yesterday caught up with Bhebhe who said she tried in vain to rescue the child.
“I was washing plates outside when I suddenly saw flames coming through the window. I tried to dash into the house knowing there were children inside,” said Bhebhe.
She said searing heat from the flames kept her at bay.
Bhebhe said she screamed for help and her neighbours rushed to assist her.
“I heard the baby screaming once in the burning house. As neighbours came to my aid, I thought his four-year-old brother was also inside the house. I tried to ignore the flames and force my way into the house but neighbours restrained me,” she said.
“They called the Fire Brigade but it was already too late. The neighbours tried to extinguish the fire using buckets.”
Bhebhe said she was somewhat relieved when she saw her four-year-old grandson rushing from the backyard as she thought he had also been burnt to death.
Bulawayo Fire Brigade Senior Divisional Officer Linos Phiri urged parents and guardians to keep matches out of reach of children.
He said some fire incidents could be avoided.
“We want to urge parents to make sure they keep matches out of the reach of children. We know children can be very naughty and want to experiment with anything. But we wouldn’t be talking about this if they had kept matches out of their reach,” said Phiri.