12 orphans, 5 widows: Counselling for bereaved families

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter 

THE National University of Science and Technology (NUST) is today expected to conduct DNA tests to identify five people who were burnt beyond recognition in a veld fire that claimed 10 lives in Esigodini, Matabeleland South province on Monday.

The DNA tests are expected to be concluded in two weeks.

The tests come at a time when counselling teams have been dispatched to render services to the affected families.

Twelve children have been left fatherless and five women widows following the death of 10 men who were trapped in the inferno in a mountainous area at Rose Farm while fighting a veld fire believed to have been started by illegal gold miners. 

President Mnangagwa sent a message of condolence to the families of 10 men and directed that assistance, including funeral expenses, be rendered to the bereaved families.

DNA tests are to be conducted on five of the bodies to match them with relatives. 

On Tuesday Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Barbara Rwodzi and Matabeleland South Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Abednico Ncube visited the site where the bodies were found and consoled the affected families. 

The two Government officials held meetings with members of various departments such as the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), Environment Management Agency (EMA), police, Umzingwane Rural District Council and others. 

Mr Thabani Mpofu

Nust director of communication and marketing Mr Thabani Mpofu said the institution’s Applied Genetics Centre will today collect samples from the bodies and the process is expected to be concluded in 14 days.

“We received a request to conduct DNA testing on five bodies that were burnt beyond recognition in the veld fire in Esigodini. A team from the Applied Genetics Centre will be collecting samples from the remains so that they match them with relatives, whose samples have been collected,” said Mr Mpofu.

“NUST Applied Genetics Testing Centre will tomorrow (today) begin the process of identifying the 5 bodies that were burnt beyond recognition. The DNA testing will facilitate the burial of the deceased who lost their lives while fighting a veld fire. As a university, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased on this sad loss.”

Acting Umzingwane District Development Coordinator, Mrs Siphathisiwe Mlotshwa said burial arrangements were being finalised by the CPU.

“We are still waiting for the CPU which is getting quotations from various organisations for funeral benefits for the State-assisted burial. These include parlour services, coffins and hampers,” said Mrs Mlotshwa. 

She said counselling teams have been dispatched to the affected families.

“There is a team of members of Social Development that visited the families on Tuesday and Wednesday. They are counselling the families to help them deal with this trauma and support them emotionally,” said Mrs Mlotshwa. 

She said there could be more dependents that were affected by the death of the 10 men.

“So far, we have compiled a list of 17 dependents that have been affected by this tragedy. There are 12 children and five women who have been widowed because of the deaths. The youngest child is two years old, and the oldest is 12. This list isn’t exhaustive, there could be more dependents as we are still compiling it,” said Mrs Mlotshwa.

The veld fire, according to witnesses, started on Monday morning and the 10 were part of a group of 15 people that had been called in to put it out.

Victims of the veld fire wrapped in body bags

The 10 were trapped by the raging fire which was worsened by strong winds. Four of the firefighters escaped with varying degrees of burns.

Police have since identified the victims as Oliver Mudimba (39), Kessary Sibanda (53) of Marula in Figtree, Ian Mudimba (38), Simon Mdlongwa (39), Nelisingwane Dlamini (47) of GMB Esigodini, Luzibo Tshuma of Chiziya Malundu Village in Binga, Bafana Moyo (53) of Dimbamiwa Village in Nkayi, England Moyo (20) of Nketa 8 in Bulawayo, Thabani Mpofu (46) of Gwelutshena Village in Nkayi and Menelisi Ngwenya (20) of Mandangema Village in Nkayi.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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