Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent
A GWANDA woman has been left stranded after her husband set their property on fire on Sunday morning following a dispute over alleged infidelity.
The man, Amos Phiri (37) from Matshetsheni area also destroyed their co-tenant, Ms Patience Nyathi’s property before threatening to stab her with her knife accusing the woman of influencing his wife to engage in adultery.
Phiri’s wife, Ms Rosebell Mdlongwa (36) from Garikai Houses in Ward 8, said she had fled to a neighbour’s house in fear after her husband torched the property.
She said her husband of 11 years who works as a gold panner was in a habit of physically assaulting her on a daily basis until she decided to flee to a neighbour’s house after he made repeated threats to stab her with a knife for three consecutive days.
Ms Mdlongwa, a mother of three children aged five, 10 and 14, said her husband destroyed all their clothes, food, property and valuable documents which they had in the house, leaving her stranded.
“I last saw him on Thursday when he left our home after severely assaulting me. I was alerted by a neighbour who sent children to tell me that my husband was burning our property. I rushed to the house but I didn’t get near as I was afraid but I saw him burning our property from afar. He collected property from the house and piled it outside and set it on fire.
“Community members tried to apprehend him but he fled. On the day that he burnt the property I hadn’t seen him for three days as he left after severely assaulting me and threatened to stab me,” she said.
Ms Mdlongwa said they were sharing the house with Ms Nyathi who stays with her children while her husband is in South Africa.
She said every time their co-tenant would bring a male visitor to the house; her husband would assault her and accuse her of infidelity as well.
Ms Mdlongwa said she bore Phiri one child and her husband has been demanding that she sends away her other two children as he did not want to fend for children that did not belong to him.
She said her refusal to give in to her husband’s demands invited further assaults on her and her children.
“My husband is an abusive man, he has been beating me up almost on a daily basis and this is the third time that he has burnt our property. What’s even worse now is that he has also burnt our neighbour’s property. He hits me with anything that he can find. I have previously reported him to the police but each time he asks for forgiveness and I have been withdrawing the charges.
“I don’t work and right now I don’t have means of feeding my children or recovering the property that we lost. My children don’t have clothes, shoes, blankets or food as he destroyed it all. I don’t know what I will do as he is our sole provider. I would appreciate any form of help which I can get. What pains me is that my children have had to witness all this abuse and violence as young as they are,” she said.
Nyathi (29) said she was woken by a loud knock on her door from Phiri at around 4AM demanding to see his wife.
She said she told Phiri that his wife was not around and kept the door locked out of fear of being harmed.
Ms Nyathi said Phiri kicked open the door and started piling all the property outside before setting it on fire.
“I was still in my room with the door locked and Phiri forced his way inside and held a knife to my throat and threatened to stab me. He strangled me while demanding to know the whereabouts of his wife. I managed to flee and escaped to a neighbour’s house.
“He also took my property and threw it in the fire. I lost all my property which includes mattresses, blankets, clothes, kitchen utensils, food, shoes, valuable documents among others. I have two children aged one and eight-years-old and I don’t know what I will do, how I will feed and clothe them since all has been destroyed,” she said.
Ms Nyathi said Phiri has been abusing his wife ever since she moved in with them two months ago.
Ward 8 councillor Ntuthuko Ndebele said he had engaged the couple on several occasions and even referred the matter to the police.
“This man appears to be very violent and I feel that these children are not safe staying here as he might come anytime and harm them. It’s also shocking that a man of the house can destroy property and food leaving children with nothing including his own biological child who is five years old. How does he expect that child to survive?
“I got a report on this incident on Sunday morning and when I made a follow up with the police, I learnt that this man had fled from the cops after burning the property. As a community we really hope that he will be apprehended because people of his nature are a danger to society,” he said.
During a visit to the scene Clr Ndebele and his wife Mrs Gladys Ndebele handed over clothes to the affected families.
Clr Ndebele said they will continue mobilising more resources from the community to assist them. Matabeleland South acting provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Loveness Mangena said they had not received a report on the incident.