Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
A mechanic (37) was burnt and later died after drums of petrol he was keeping at his workshop for resale on the black market caught fire in Victoria Falls.
Tapinda Whisper Muzvidzva who operated a panel beating shop but had turned the premises into a petrol warehouse feeding the black market was rushed to Victoria Falls Hospital and was later transferred to Mpilo Central Hospital where he died last Friday.
The fire occurred on Thursday at Jeche Complex in the industrial area.
One of his colleagues at the shop and another man believed to be a Zambian citizen, escaped with minor injuries.
Property and a yet to be disclosed number of drums full of fuel were also destroyed.
It is suspected that the fire occurred when Muzvidzva and his workmates were draining petrol from one of the drums to fuel a client’s vehicle using an electric motor.
His father, Mr Morris Charles Muzvidzva, confirmed the death but denied that his son was dealing in fuel.
“It came as a shock to us as the whole family is yet to come to terms with the whole issue. It’s not true that he was selling fuel but he was refuelling his car at the workshop,” said Mr Muzvidzva.
Sources close to the incident said Muzvidzva was burnt while attempting to salvage the premises and drums of fuel inside.
“The now deceased was keeping fuel in drums and jerry cans at Jeche Complex in the industrial area. He would buy the fuel from service stations and stock it at his premises to later sell on the black market where he used an electric pump to drain from drums into a car.
“On the fateful day, one of his assistants switched on the electric pump to drain fuel for a client and there was a spark which set the premises alight,” said a source.
The Chronicle was told that Muzvidzva who was outside the shop, rushed inside intending to put out the fire to save his property. In the process a jerry can fell and spilt some petrol thereby fuelling the fire.
A crowd that had gathered watched helplessly as Muzvidzva was engulfed in fire while the two survivors bolted out to safety.
A businessman, Mr Evans Ncube from nearby premises rushed with a fire extinguisher and put out the fire in the shop but Muzvidzva had already been burnt.
“I wasn’t nearby and only heard noise. When I checked what was happening I saw fire and that’s when I rushed with a fire extinguisher. I only managed to extinguish the fire in the shop but could not save Muzvidzva as he was already burnt and was being rushed to hospital,” he said.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was yet to receive the report.
He, however, warned members of the public against hoarding fuel and keeping it in houses or shops as this is dangerous.