A SERIES of mysterious fires have reportedly burnt down three homesteads belonging to three related families in Lupane, forcing them to flee and seek refuge in a bush.
The bizarre incidents are taking place in Guga Village 1, Dongamuzi area, on the boundary of the Chief Menyezwa and Chief Mabhikwa chiefdoms.
Chronicle reports that Mr Max Mlalazi (78), Mr Thembelani Mlalazi (39) and Khumbulani Nyathi (40), and their families are now living in an open space away from their homesteads.
The three are said to be related although their relationship was not clarified to this publication.
Efforts to talk to the affected families were fruitless as their mobile numbers were not reachable. It is also not clear how many members each family has.
Sources said they have been hounded by the mysterious fires since last week when their homesteads started catching fire in separate incidents.
They would shift to other huts which would also catch fire. The families pitched tents for temporary shelter and ended up fleeing to the homestead of another relative in the same village when the tents were also burnt.
The three families have, however, moved from the relative’s homestead after a hut where they had put their belongings in was also reportedly burnt down.
They have since moved to an open space with their few remaining belongings where they now live without shelter as they fear the fires might follow them.
Chief Mabhikwa confirmed the issue that has left the whole community shocked.
“I received a report although the particular village doesn’t fall in my jurisdiction. But it looks like there are issues of witchcraft as it seems that anything that they lay hands on catches fire. We understand a close relative took them to his homestead and a hut they occupied was mysteriously burnt. They are now living in temporary shelter in a bush and desperately need assistance in the form of food and shelter,” he said.
The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) visited the three families and has appealed to members of the community and other stakeholders for help.
Lupane District Development Co-ordinator Mrs Ennety Sithole, who chairs the Lupane District CPU, said the situation is touching and needs divine intervention.
“The three families are from Guga Village and are living in an open space after their homesteads were mysteriously burnt. The continuous fires burnt huts, clothes, blankets, food and temporary shelter.
“They have lost all their household property hence we are urgently appealing to all stakeholders be it business, community members and development partners to help with tents, building materials, food, clothes and blankets.
We are also appealing to churches to intercede with prayers as the families need divine intervention at this stage,” she said.
The Social Welfare Department, Lupane Peace Committee and some local church organisations in the Matabeleland North provincial capital have donated clothes, cash and 150kg of mealie-meal to the three families.
The mysterious issue comes barely a fortnight after a family in Mpofu Village, also in Lupane, also lost all its belongings and homestead to a fire started by a family member who wanted to kill them.
Mpofu village head Robert Donga and domestic worker, Praymore Sibanda, died from burns sustained during the fire incident.
Kholwani Donga, who is in remand for two counts of murder and five others of attempted murder, accused his grandfather and grandmother Ms Angela Mpala, who is recovering in hospital, of bewitching his father who died last month.
Four other family members escaped unscathed from the fire.