Monday, 20 June 2016

18-month tot dies in ‘mentally unstable’ drug user’s fire suicide

A Victoria Falls man (30) and his 18-month-old daughter were burnt beyond recognition after he allegedly set fire to their bedroom hut. 

Ngqabutho Petros Mahlangu, who family members alleged had become psychotic due to excessive mbanje smoking, is suspected to have deliberately started the fire on Thursday night.

He left a suicide note that read: “Bazakhala abakhalayo, bahleke abahlekayo, sengihambile mina (I’ve gone, some will mourn while some will rejoice), by Zesa moto muzhinji.” Mahlangu was also nicknamed Zesa in the BH 38 neighbourhood in Chief Mvuthu area, due to his mood swings.

He allegedly sent his wife Ms Sibonokuhle Nkomo (22) on an errand to his mother in the neighbouring village and remained with the little girl at home. A distraught Ms Nkomo said she didn’t suspect that he was up to anything.
18-month tot dies in ‘mentally unstable’ drug user’s fire suicide
“He didn’t show signs of being troubled by anything. We didn’t fight or argue and he is the one who sent me to go and get ijodo (melon) from BH 37. I didn’t know he intended to do this. I still have a vision of their bodies,” she said, struggling to contain tears.

She said neighbours phoned to tell her about the fire. When she got home, Ms Nkomo said, it was too late as the whole hut had been engulfed in the fire that also destroyed property that includes a bed, clothes, blankets, identify particulars and food.

Mahlangu’s mother Mrs Sibusisiwe Mahlangu (47) said she was still trying to come to terms with her son and granddaughter’s deaths. “My daughter-in-law came running saying their bedroom hut was on fire. When we got there the roof had already caved in.

“At that moment everyone was asking about the child. No-one suspected that the two were in that fire until we saw a note stuck on a pole at the gate. That’s when it dawned on us that something tragic had happened and it was too late to put out the fire as we stood helplessly,” said Mrs Mahlangu.

She said her son was unstable as a result of abuse of drugs as he smoked mbanje. “People called him Zesa because of the way he drank umnjunju (an illicit traditional beer brewed by villagers). He would act strangely whenever he smoked mbanje but he had recovered after he stopped smoking,” she said.

Ngqabutho’s father Mr Elliot Ndebele (56) said: “My son looked healthy and well in the morning when he came to milk cows. “Seeing their charred bodies is like watching a movie and I still can’t believe it.”

National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said police attended the scene and investigations were underway. “People should monitor people suspected to be mentally unstable to avoid such incidents,” she said.

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