Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
AN 88-YEAR-OLD grandpa died in Bulawayo’s mabutweni suburb after his house was gutted by fire from a candle he was using following prolonged Zesa load shedding on Friday night.
Mkhululi Ncube, who lived alone, was pronounced dead at Mpilo Central Hospital where he had been rushed for medical treatment after the incident that occurred at about 11PM.
The tragedy comes at a time when the country is enduring a load shedding exercise going above the scheduled 10 hours in most instances.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited Ncube’s residence where just a few mourners were gathered without proper plans to bury him.
Ncube’s neighbour Ms Anna Sigadula said neighbours had to break through a door to gain entry into his house in an effort to rescue him.
“We were awakened by smoke that was coming from his room. We called other neighbours and rushed to rescue him as we knew that he was sick. However the door was locked so we had to smash it open. He had suffered serious burns. We managed to put out the fire. It seems he could not escape the inferno as he was sickly. We called an ambulance which ferried him to Mpilo Central Hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival,” said Ms Sigadula.
She said the sad thing is that Ncube had no one to look after him at his advanced age.
Ms Sigadula said power cuts were becoming a thorn in the flesh for most residents and it was disheartening that Ncube lost his life as a result of a fire that emanated from a candle.
“It seems he fell asleep without putting out the candle. All this occurred following electricity load shedding imposed on us by Zesa,” said Ms Sigadula.
For a moment the news crew thought that Ncube had been buried as the few women who were at the house were cleaning the room.
Ncube’s relative Ms Thama Ncube, who arrived at the house after his death said the situation was desperate as they do not have funds to bury him.
“We don’t even know where to start. We don’t have money so we can’t say when he would be buried. We are just hoping that the residents could assist us in burying him. Those wishing to assist us can contact me or send money on my Ecocash number 0784407637,” said Ms Ncube, herself an old woman.
Bulawayo acting police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said no foul play was suspected in Ncube’s death.
“We received a case of sudden death where an 88-year-old male died after he was severely burnt and succumbed to injuries after his room caught fire following Zesa load shedding on Friday at about 11pm. He was pronounced dead at Mpilo Central Hospital where he had been ferried for medical treatment,” said Insp Ncube.
He appealed to residents to exercise caution in dealing with lit candles during load shedding periods as more lives could be lost.