Sifundiso Ndlovu Chronicle Reporter
A MARRIED Bulawayo man was burnt to death when he allegedly petrol bombed a house while trying to kill his estranged girlfriend in Sauerstown suburb yesterday.
Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer Richard Peterson confirmed the incident which happened at midnight along Marula Avenue.
He said the house was completely destroyed.
Oliver Tatiwa, 35, attacked two occupants at the house using a pick before he started the fire.
A few hours before the inferno, Tatiwa had threatened his girlfriend, Cherelle Ncube, 22, with whom he has a one-year-old daughter, on the phone, saying he was coming to take away everything from her, including her life.
Ncube unsuccessfully tried to get a protection order from the courts last month to bar Tatiwa from visiting her after he beat her up and tried to strangle her with a rope.
The house, which had five occupants, was completely destroyed by the blaze.
Ncube has since moved in with a relative in Cowdray Park.
Chronicle caught up with her yesterday and she said her five-year relationship with Tatiwa had been rocky as he was abusive.
“Tatiwa was very violent and two months ago he strangled me with a rope and badly assaulted me. I sought a protection order against him but the court told us to try to resolve the issue amicably. He was so abusive that my parents banned him from visiting me at home,” said Ncube.
She said trouble started when Tatiwa started calling around 8PM on Wednesday saying he wanted to see his daughter.
“Yesterday, Tatiwa accused me of using his phone to talk to my boyfriends while ignoring his calls. He threatened me saying I was going to lose everything I have including my life,” Ncube said.
She said Tatiwa threw a burning container filled with petrol into her bedroom through the ceiling, narrowly missing her and the baby.
“I was naked. Fire quickly spread through the room. I grabbed the baby and opened the door. I could not go out that way as there was a wall of fire in the corridor. I banged the door shut and headed for the window. I tried throwing the baby out of the house but she could not fit through the burglar bars,” Ncube said.
She said as the flames quickly consumed the property in the bedroom, she began choking from the smoke.
Ncube said she groped her way back to the door and decided to brave the flames in the corridor. “I cradled the baby in my arms to shield her from the fire and I ran out. At one point, the bay’s hair caught fire and I had to slap out the flames. I sustained minor burns on my arms and nose. When I got out of the house, I rushed next door and was given clothes,” she said.
According to Ncube’s cousin, Grievance Mupani, 25, Tatiwa got into the house using a set of spare keys and locked the corridor doors.
“He came straight to our bedroom where I was sleeping with my wife and tried to hit me with a pick but I ducked. I pushed him and ran out but found the corridor door locked. He caught up with me and hit me on the shoulder with the pick. I managed to open the door and run out,” he said.
When a Chronicle news crew arrived at the scene, police were collecting Tatiwa’s body while neighbours spoke in hushed tones. Tatiwa’s wife, who could not be drawn to comment, accompanied the body as it was taken to the UBH mortuary.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Abednico Ncube declined to comment saying he was in a meeting.