HARARE - A fierce inferno gutted another house belonging to Vice President Joice Mujuru, in Damofalls, Ruwa yesterday — three years after her decorated liberation war hero husband Solomon Mujuru’s remains were found after a mysterious fire at their farmhouse in Beatrice.
In a statement, police spokesperson Charity Charamba confirmed that the nine-roomed house was burnt down due to a fire ostensibly started to “smoke out” a snake.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police would like to confirm the occurrence of a fire incident that burnt a house belonging to Vice President Cde Joice Mujuru at Tarisa Farm, in Ruwa today,” she said.
“Circumstances are that a relative to the Honourable Vice President saw a snake close to the main house at the farm. In a bid to kill the snake, he lit some fire, which then got out of control and spread to the kitchen (and) the fire subsequently spread to the main house…,” Charamba said, adding “no foul play was suspected” and workers had managed to “rescue some property from the house, although they could not extinguish the raging fire” which destroyed the house.
Fire fighters battle to douse a fire that broke out at vice president Joice Mujuru's Damofalls house. Pic: Darius Mutamba
According to the police, fire-fighters arrived at the scene when the whole house had been razed down and the value of the property damaged has not yet been ascertained.
“The ZRP would like to appeal the general public to desist from starting fires particularly this summer period, as fire can quickly spread because of high temperatures, coupled with dry grass,” she said.
While a devastated Mujuru visited the Ruwa homestead yesterday and there was no official comment from the family, neighbours had earlier told the Daily News that the incident happened after the Zanu PF number two’s stepson, Tendai, 33, had sought to kill the reptile.
The media was denied access to the homestead and an opportunity to speak to Mujuru about the fire. A group of unidentified men manning the gate refused journalists’ access to the farm house.
Accompanied by security details, Mujuru is said to have moved around the gutted house, inspecting the damage. Neighbours stood around the gate observing the activities.
Although authorities insist there was no foul play, this has not dampened Harare’s rumour mill given the tragic circumstances of 2011 and Zanu PF’s current succession, and factional fighting.
Information gleaned from neighbours suggested that Tendai had in fact started the fire intending to kill the snake that had entered into a hole in the garden and that the fire subsequently raged out of control.
“He started the fire and it got out of control then it lit the fowl run. The wind carried the fire to the kitchen and it totally went out of control and lit the main house’s grass thatched roof. Neighbours tried to help douse the fire but it was difficult,” said a neighbour who requested anonymity.
Fire brigade trucks immediately hurried to the house to try and extinguish the fire.
So big was the inferno that the fire brigade were still battling to douse it a full five hours after it was started.
The house was understood to be the first house that the Mujuru family owned and resided in when they returned from the liberation war in 1980.