Mtendere house gutted, looted

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SIMON MUNTEMBA writes

A HOUSE caught fire in Lusaka at the weekend while the owners were away and, as expected, a horde of neighbours and passersby rushed to the scene to help.

But the ‘Good Samaritans’ turned out to be Philistines after all. They looted the few household goods they managed to salvage from the inferno.

The fire gutted house number 379/33 in Mtendere East Township on Saturday.

Scores of the residents in the surrounding community swooped on the burning house as the owner was away at work and made off with assorted items in the name of ‘help’.

The fire, whose source according to the owner is suspected to be constant load shedding, swept through the house at about around 16:45 hours.

But as word of it spread, members of the community started flocking to the house to recover some goods but started taking them to their homes instead of keeping them for safely for the owner.

A visibly distraught and disappointed Evelyn Tembo, 42, a mother of four, said that her house was burnt because of constant load shedding.

Ms Tembo, who is a landlady of the gutted property housing several tenants, said she was phoned by one of her neighbours that it was on

“When I rushed back, I found the house completely burnt,” she said.

Ms Tembo, who was found seated in a small shelter said she had lost all her goods in the inferno and to the looters and did not know what to do as the house was her only meaningful source of income.

She said the few items that were rescued from the house were not given to her because the Good Samaritans who had turned up to offer help became looters.

Ms Tembo said determined looters went away with assorted food stuffs, kitchen utensils and other household items which she had worked jherd to acquire.  

“Vonse vinapya, sitinatengepo vilivonse. Elo tilibe napogona. Tagona pali ba neighbour. Cinalengesa ati ipye nyumba ni loadsheding cifukwa malaiti yenzo cita yaenda yabwela mpaka pa last yanabwela namphamvu noshoka nyumba.

[We are squatting with neighbours right now; we don’t even have where to sleep. Frequent outages caused the fire because power kept going on and off until it came with high voltage]

“Pamene nyumba yenzo kupya, bantu benze banapaka maningi, so benangu benzotenga unga navinangu-vinangu. Time yakupya nyumba yenze nthawi yao yosampha vinthu beve,” Ms Tembo said.

[When the house was on fire there were many people, but instead of helping they took away many items]

Ms Tembo said the firefighters who were called to contain the fire arived late as they found that it had already spread to the entire interior of the house.

Zesco Limited spokesperson Henry Kapata said there were several reasons that could cause the house to be gutted.

Mr Kapata said the eternal wiring might have been done by an unqualified electrician.

He, however, sympathied with Ms Tembo and asked her to list all the things that had been lost and submit the list to the Customer Care Department to see how the company could help.

“It’s unfortunate that the house was gutted, but we are asking her to come to Zesco Custom Care and get the forms where she will tabulate all the items that were lost and the value. But as Zesco, we will also do our own investigations to ascertain what caused the fire and based on the report from our experts, we will let our legal team see the way forward. But we sympathise with her, and it is really unfortunate,” Mr Kapata said.


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