Strange fire burns granny, property remains intact

The Chronicle

Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter

POLICE in Bulawayo are investigating a bizarre case in which the charred remains of a 75-year-old woman were found in a house where nothing else was burnt. 

Neighbours said they last saw Gogo Angeline Ndlovu alive on June 6 around 11AM while she was basking in the sun outside her house in Cowdray Park suburb.

They were then shocked to discover her charred remains in her house two days later but nothing else in the house was burnt.

Neighbours, worried that they had not seen her for days, opened her back door, which was not locked and found her body burnt beyond recognition. 

“She was lying on the floor and was burnt almost to ashes. Strangely, nothing else except a corner of the table appeared burnt. We are asking ourselves how she could have been burnt to that extent yet the house remained intact. 

“It really boggles the mind how a person can be reduced to ashes like that and yet the house remains untouched save for the corner of kitchen table,” said one of the neighbours who spoke to the news crew.

 Acting Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer, Mr Edward Mpofu said the cause of fire remained unknown although fire officers found a candle on the scene.

“Nothing can be ruled out because we were only called to the scene by police when the fire had long died down and there had been traffic at the scene. It becomes difficult to carry out any thorough investigations to ascertain cause of fire in such circumstances where there is a possibility of the place having been tampered with. A candle was found near the scene of the incident which, however, does not necessarily mean that it was the source or cause of the fire. The cause of fire therefore remains unknown,” said Mr Mpofu.

He said neighbours told them of a fire that occurred on Wednesday night although they were not certain it had been in the house.

The old woman is said to have been living with some people who apparently left a fortnight ago. 

 Family members who had travelled for the funeral wake declined to speak to the Press.

However, windows at the house were black with soot.

“I am the maternal uncle to the deceased, so I am the mother. We have nothing to say to the Press. This is a family secret, it is our matter, we do not want it published in your paper,” said a relative who only identified himself as Mr Ndlovu. 

The family threatened to sue The Chronicle if the story was published.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said police were investigating the incident.

“I can confirm that we are dealing with a case of sudden death of a 75-year-old woman who was found burnt beyond recognition at a house in Cowdray Park suburb. Her body was taken to United Bulawayo Hospitals and investigations are underway. 

“The body was lying in the kitchen passage head facing the door leading to the lounge. About three metres from the body was a half used candle that was not burning and next to the body was a wooden table that was partly burnt. The lower part of the legs were not burnt,” said Assistant Inspector Msebele

—@andile_tshuma