The sister of Mr Mbilu Mutholini, Ms Elisa Maphyanya, shares the family's pain with Makhado Municipality's mayor, Cllr Shonisani Sinyosi.
The members of the Mutholini household in Muila-Gumani village are living in fear after their house was gassed and petrol-bombed in the middle of the night.
The incident, which happened about a week ago, left one family member, Mr Mbilu Mutholini (51), with third-degree burns. His nephew, Mr Thabo Mutholini, said that he was fast asleep in a separate thatched rondavel when he was awakened by the noise of the fire burning down the house in which he was sleeping.
“I quickly dashed out of the house, only to notice that the whole yard was engulfed in smoke and fire,” he said. “I heard my uncle's voice crying weakly for help, and I stormed into the house where he was and managed to pull him out.”
With the help of neighbours, Thabo started extinguishing the fire with buckets of water and sand. They also found a 9kg-sized silver-grey gas cylinder, which the criminals had allegedly used during the incident. A beer bottle filled with sand, petrol and a cloth strip was also discovered in the house. “We are 100% sure that this is the work of evil people who want to see us dead,” Thabo said.
The incident took place amid suspected family squabbles, which also centre around a court case. According to Thabo, his uncle has been at loggerheads with his stepdaughter since during the burial of his wife (and mother to the stepdaughter), who passed away in June this year.
“The stepdaughter, who was staying at her husband's place at the time of her mother's death, had come along with her husband to live at the home that my uncle had shared with his late wife,” Thabo said. “They argued with us during the funeral. They said the property – which included the house and some cars – belonged to the stepdaughter's mother and that my uncle was just a parasite who clung to the deceased's flesh when she was still alive.”
In the meantime, Mr Mutholini had moved from the shared house around June this year. He reported the matter to the police, who then brought the case before the Magistrate's Court. On 5 October, the court made a ruling in favour of Mutholini, ordering the stepdaughter to vacate the house by 22 December to allow Mutholini to take permanent occupation on that very date.
Thabo thanked all his neighbours for assisting him in extinguishing the fire. “It was a chaotic fire and all the people who came didn't use their cell phones to snap pictures of our tragedy to make a show-off on social media,” he said. “They showed us genuine help and care.”
The family further reported the matter to the Tshitale police station. The provincial police's spokesperson, Col Moatshe Ngoepe, confirmed the incident and said the police had arrested a 19-year-old suspect on a charge of arson. “We are still establishing if the suspect can be linked to more cases in the policing area,” Col Ngoepe said.
Makhado Municipality's mayor, Cllr Shonisani Sinyosi, visited the Mutholini family and expressed words of sympathy on behalf of the municipality. “We support the Mutholini family during this difficult time,” she said. “We also wish Mr Mutholini a speedy recovery. In the Makhado area we are peace-loving people and we always want people to feel safe in their respective homes. We therefore condemn acts of crime in the strongest terms.”
Date:01 December 2018 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.