Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
A five year old girl died while two other people were severely burnt when their house, alleged to have been used as an illegal filling station, caught fire on Monday afternoon. The minor reportedly succumbed to the wounds and died on Tuesday.
Sources close to the case said the house caught fire when one of the victims was preparing a meal in the same room used to store petrol.
A source said: “One of the victims was preparing a meal using an electric stove. At the same time the suspected fuel dealer was transferring petrol from a bigger tank into 2-litre containers. During the process there was an electric spark from the stove which lit up the petrol and the house caught fire. Two male occupants aged 17 and 23 years, and the minor were burnt in the process. However, they managed to escape”.
The source said the fire was later doused by the town council fire fighters with the assistance of residents.
The police officer commanding Beitbridge district (Dispol), Chief Superintendent Francis Phiri said he was yet to get information on the incident.
Beitbridge town council spokesman, Mr Raniel Ndou, said the three victims were admitted at Beitbridge referral hospital, where the minor later died.
“We are yet to get a full report on the incident, though indications are that the house was being used for illegal fuel deals. Let me reiterate that, reselling fuel or storing it at home, apart from being illegal, is dangerous to human lives. We are worried by the continued loss of lives due to incidents related to illegal fuel sales or storage,” said Mr Ndou.
He said although they had managed to clear many illegal fuel dealers from the streets, there were still a few playing a cat and mouse game with municipal police. He said they were engaging the police and other stakeholders to get a lasting solution to illegal fuel dealings in the town’s suburbs.