Liberty Dube Weekender Correspondent
A family from Marange is living in perpetual fear after a mysterious fire torched three huts and reduced all household property to nothing.
So strange is the fire, which occasionally resurfaces burning thatch grass, maize barns and other belongings at Matope homestead, in Muoko Village, under Chief Marange.
The fire has been terrorising the family since June this year.
This has forced the Matope family, which in July was blessed with a baby girl, to desert their homestead for the fields which are about 500 metres away, where they are staying without roof over their heads.
Tsanangurai Matope, his wife Chipo Mukunguma and their three children are now surviving on handouts from well-wishers and neighbours.
They are now appealing for any form of material and financial assistance, especially blankets, clothing and food.
When The Weekender visited the deserted homestead last Friday, it discovered three razed huts and debris of household property strewn all over the yard.
The menacing fire allegedly started mid June and has caused the family untold and unprecedented suffering.
No family member has been injured in the fire.
However, it is the harsh conditions that the two-months-old baby has been subjected to which is of concern to both the haunted family and community.
The baby has never known the comfort of a decent home, as she is being exposed to the wind and blazing sun, making her vulnerable to diseases.
Members of the community are hesitant to give the family refuge as superstitious fears abound that unless the problem has been detected and rectified, the fire can anytime pursue and haunt the family.
The family’s problems have been made worse as all attempts to consult traditional healers and prophets have failed to yield the desired solace.
None of them has boldly explained what the problem is or offered a solution.
“It is a sign that something is wrong within the family, but we have no idea what it is and what caused it,” said a dejected Chipo.
“The strange fire started on June 13 when I had just given birth to a bouncing girl child. It gutted our kitchen and burnt maize and other few items that were inside it.
“Three days later the fire resurfaced and burnt our bedroom hut. The fire later razed another hut before we decided to vacate the homestead. We are now living in the open and in perpetual fear,” she said.
“We have been living on handouts after all our maize and property was incinerated in the inferno. We are living in fear because we do not know the source of the fire or what to do to rectify the problem. I spent the better part of the day holding my baby because she is not safe under these harsh conditions.
“We tried consulting traditional leaders and prophets, but nothing has changed.
The fire recently burnt some grass and other logs near the homestead and we are now scared it can pursue us here,” added Chipo.
Jeremiah Matope had this to say: “We strongly believe that there is something wrong within the family, and we do not its genesis. At best we can speculate that maybe it is an avenging spirit.
We are desperately looking for assistance so that we revert to our homestead and stay in peace again. Sleeping in the open is not healthy for any of us, worse still the baby.”
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association president Mr George Kandiero said: “It is possible that the fire is a sign of witchcraft shenanigans done by an angry spirit. This could be a way to frustrate the family and make them live in fear.