Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Barbra Rwodzi, Tuesday, visited the families of the ten men who were burnt to death in a veld fire in Esigodini, hailing them as heroes.
The men were trying to put out a raging inferno which broke out at Lot 43 on Monday morning but unfortunately succumbed to the fire.
Five other sustained severe burns are currently receiving treatment.
The deputy minister who was in the company of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Matabeleland South Abednico Ncube first met with the Matabeleland South Civil Protection Unit at the Esigodini Rural District Council offices where they were given a briefing on the incident.
Speaking during the meeting the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Matabeleland South provincial manager Decent Ndlovu indicated that they will have to use Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) to identify those who were burnt beyond recognition.
There was also a recommendation to the government to declare the incident a state of disaster and the victims be accorded state assisted burials.
In her remarks, deputy minister Rwodzi described the men as ‘heroes’ who died protecting property and the environment.
After the meeting, the delegation then went to the farm to commisserate with the bereaved families.
Speaking to the media after visiting the area where the men perished, deputy minister Rwodzi, bemoaned the high cases of fire incidents.
She said as a ministry they discourage the use of fire to clear land for farming or mining activities.
“We have just visited the site where we lost ten lives that were trying to protect the environment when the veld fire started and we are saying it’s not a good sight, we have lost lives and we do not encourage any activity that uses fire in the bush because it just not destroys the bush but lives,” said Rwodzi.
She said 5 400 veld fires had been recorded across the country this year compared to last year where by the end of the veld fire season they had recorded 3 400 veld fires.
There was a sombre atmosphere at the farm as some of the workers, community members and relatives of the deceased were still trying to come to terms with the incident.
Police have since released the names of the deceased: Kessary Sibanda (53) of Marula, Figtree, Ian Mudimba (38), Simon Mdlongwa (39), Nelisingwane Dlamini (47) of GMB Esigodini, Luzibo Tshuma of Binga, and Oliver Mudimba (39).
The other victims were identified as Bafana Moyo (53) of Nkayi, England Moyo (20) of Nketa 8, Bulawayo, Thabani Mpofu (46) of Nkayi and Menelisi Ngwenya (20) of Nkayi.
Crayton Mudenda, a relative of the late Ian and Oliver Mudimba said the family had been left devastated by the loss.
“People can see what is here but we all put it in God’s hands, we can’t argue when God’s time comes it is the right time,’ said Crayton.
In addition, Ian’s brother Oscar Mudimba said the death of his young brother has left a huge gap in his family.
“My brother left two children and his wife, we were so close now I don’t know what I am going to do,” he said.
“We urge all those who use fire to clear the bush to stop as we have lost our family members.”
A visibly distraught Khesiwe Zondo who lost his brother Kessary Sibanda in the fire said they are waiting on the farm owner to update them on the way forward.
The owner of the farm, Abel Moyo also said he was still trying to recover from the incident.
He also raised concern about the illegal miners who invade farming areas to prospect for gold.