THE bodies of nine people who died in a house fire in Nampundwe have been buried.
Paul Phiri, aged between 45 and 50, is said to have torched the house with petrol after failing to reconcile with his wife, Florence Sinkende, with whom he had been on separation for some time.
With seven children, a grandchild and himself in the house, Mr Phiri fastened the door with a chain, doused the house with 10 litres of petrol and set it alight.
The family of Shimakamba village in Nampundwe, about 25kms west of Lusaka, all died in the blaze as the rest of the community was celebrating the dawn of 2014.
Shibuyunji district commissioner Fanuel Mweemba said in an interview yesterday that the bodies were buried at Shamakamba cemetery on Wednesday afternoon.
“They were buried yesterday [Wednesday] between 15:00 and 16:00 hours in the same area,” he said. “The situation is calm and people don’t suspect any foul play.”
A relative, Bonnwell Lubole, said Ms Sinkende has since been taken to Maamba by her relatives to help her recover from shock of loss of her children.
“She [Florence] has gone to Maamba with relatives for a while. She left after the burial on Wednesday and she will come back after some time,” he said.
A psychiatrist at Chainama Hills College Hospital has said he cannot rule out depression and psychiatric conditions in the man.
Mr William Phiri, who is principal psychiatric clinical officer at the hospital, said there are a number of psychological issues, including the loss of a lover, that precipitate suicide.
“He might have been depressed for a long time…since he has been trying to reconcile with the wife. We cannot rule out depression. Perhaps his wife told him that she is getting married and maybe that was too much for him to bear and he had no way out,” he said.
Mr Phiri said the deceased could have felt defeated by the rejection of his former wife to reconcile with him and decided to kill all the children and himself.
He also said Mr Phiri could have had psychiatric conditions, which were not known to his family members and his friends.
Mr Phiri said that if he was talked to, he could not have committed suicide and killed innocent people.
“I can assure you the frustration was too much. Of course psychiatric conditions could have been there, which is depression, and depression is one of the many causes of suicide,” he said.
Mr Phiri said when someone is sad, feels rejected and a feeling of emptiness takes control, the person begins to generate suicidal ideas.
He said there could have been other issues surrounding the man’s life which could be established if a full case history was carried out.
“Maybe there has been a history of suicide in the family….as you interact with his relatives, they may tell you that a close relative committed suicide and sometimes, these genes run in a family,” he said.