Zimbabwe — Environment and Natural Resources Minister Francis Nhema has lamented the needless loss of lives to veld fires.
While at one of the Mashonaland West legs of the national fire awareness campaigns recently, Minister Nhema was greeted by the news that a 70-year-old woman, Mrs Martha Mazorodze, was burnt beyond recognition in a veld fire. This happened as she tried to save her stacks of thatching grass from the blaze.
The fire awareness campaign was held last Friday at Dixile Farm about 20km west of Karoi Minister Nhema said: It is sad to hear that at a farm just nearby, an innocent old woman lost her life due to some peoples negligence. I urge traditional leaders, particularly chiefs, to be sterner on such people by imposing heavier fines without fear or favour.
Minister Nhema said even after magistrates fined perpetrators, traditional leaders from the village head up to the chief should still punish the culprits. He encouraged communities to get together and establish fireguards and slash tall grass around their homesteads to save lives and property. Turning to land degradation, Minister Nhema urged farmers to switch to organic fertilisers and ditch artificial ones.
In an earlier briefing with the political leadership, Hurungwe district administrator Ms Tsana Chirau told Minister Nhema that the major culprits on veld fires were poachers, panners and those who threw burning cigarette stubs into the bush as they drove along the Harare-Chirundu Highway.
Other travellers start fires at bus stops to keep warm in the early morning as they wait for buses but often neglect to put these out when they leave. Among those present were Hurungwe Senator Cde Reuben Marumahoko (Zanu-PF), Chiefs Dendera, Dandawa, Kazangarare, Chundu and Chanetsa, Hurungwe Rural District Council chief executive officer Mr Joran Misheck Moyo and Karoi town secretary Mr Maxwell Kaitano.
Mr Nhema planted a tree to encourage environmentally sound practices and a fire-fighting demonstration was held afterwards. Meanwhile, a bull elephant damaged a vehicle belonging to a detective sergeant in Kariba and ate three loaves of bread while the cop was attending a church service on Sunday, writes our Crime Reporter.
The incident occurred at Jumbo Shopping Centre in Nyamhunga Township. Deputy police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka yesterday said: The detective parked his Mazda 626 at the shopping centre before going to attend a church service. During the service, the bull elephant emerged from a bush and smashed the rearwindscreen and damaged the boot.