Andile Tshuma/ Esinathy Sibanda, Chronicle Reporters
A FORM One pupil died in Bulawayo yesterday after he was electrocuted by overhead power cables while fetching lemons from a tree to season mealie-meal porridge.
Prince Mafu of Emakhandeni suburb died instantly and was stuck on a mango tree until personnel from ZESA switched off power for him to be brought down. The mango tree that he had climbed is next to a lemon tree and both are directly under a power line.
His mother, Ms Elizabeth Mbele, who is expecting her fourth child, got into premature labour as she failed to contain her sorrow on the death of her child.
Prince’s family narrated how they witnessed him being consumed by the high voltage electricity and described the horror of watching smoke coming out of his burning body.
“We literally saw him getting burnt to death. The electricity consumed him while we watched. We were helpless. We could not do anything. He was too high up in the trees and neighbours called for ambulances and police but it was too late.
“I have been procrastinating trimming the trees. We are tenants at this house so the landlord comes once in a while and he had advised us to find someone who could cut the trees for us. It is sad,” said Mrs Sithokozile Mbele, his grandmother.
“The long wire he was using was not stable. It was going back and forth and the ripe lemons are now higher up the tree. So he climbed a mango tree which grows next to the lemon tree and got to the top. Somehow he failed to control the wire and it came into contact with the power cables. There is a transformer outside our yard,” said Mrs Mbele.
Neighbours described Prince as an obedient child who respected the elderly in his community.
“It pains us to see such a wonderful and well brought up boy die like this. These days so many youths are disrespecting elders and engaging in the unthinkable, but for such a good boy to go in such a painful way, I wonder why. This is a tragedy for the whole community as Prince was everyone’s child. Children nowadays are problematic but as a boy we watched him help his grandmother with cleaning duties such as mopping and polishing floors, laundry and most of all gardening. He loved to tend his garden,” said a neighbour who identified himself as Mr Moyo.
Mrs Mbele described her grandchild as a hardworking, intelligent and obedient child.
“He had not gone to school yesterday as he has outstanding school fees balance and was avoiding the embarrassment of being sent back home for non payment. My grandson was my blessing. He did everything around the house without complaining. As you can see on this wire, this black waxy stuff are chunks of his flesh which got burnt and got stuck on it,” said Mrs Mbele
When the Chronicle arrived at the scene, his body had been taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals.
“While he was up the tree, his uncle was telling him to get off as he had picked enough lemons to flavour the porridge. However, we did not know it was his last day.
“After he got electrocuted, we only saw smoke coming from his hands and feet as they were on fire. He froze in that position and got stuck in the tree. Ambulances, fire brigade and police rushed to the scene. The ambulance crew left as they said he had died instantly,” said Mrs Mbele.
The fire brigade could not remove the boy as power lines were still live and his body could electrocute anyone who came into contact with it as the metal hook he was using was still stuck to the power cables.