TWO children of the same family in Chief Singani in Choma have been burnt to death by a suspected thief who set the hut in which they were sleeping on fire when they screamed for help and thwarted his attempt to steal household goods.
Police have arrested the suspect identified as Antifel Muleya, 22, also of Chief Singani’s area.
Southern Province commissioner of police Mary Chikwanda said yesterday that the incident happened on Monday night while the parents of the children were at a funeral.
Ms Chikwanda identified the dead children as Eric Simbalyani, 9, and his older brother, Steven, 11.
Ms Chikwanda said Muleya allegedly broke into the house with intent to steal while Eric, Steven and three other children were asleep.
She, however, said Muleya’s attempt to steal household goods was thwarted when the children were awakened by the noise and screamed for help.
“Muleya entered the house where five children were sleeping but the children were awakened by his noise and they recognised him and immediately screamed for help.
“But when Muleya realised that the children had recognised him, he went outside, collected some fire and set the grass-thatched house ablaze,” Ms Chikwanda said
She said three children escaped through the window while Eric and Steven, who were gripped with fear, opted to hide under their parents’ bed and were burnt to death.
Ms Chikwanda said police have arrested Muleya and charged with arson.
She said the two children were buried on Tuesday morning but their bodies will be exhumed for an autopsy.
The incident comes barely a month after a 55-year-old man and his daughter, also of Chief Singani, died after the house they were sleeping in was set ablaze by the deceased’s son on suspicion that he was a wizard.
Meanwhile, Malawian commissioner of police for the northern region Agness Gondwe has apologised to Zambia over the recent brutal murder of a 31-year-old tobacco trader in that country.
Ms Gondwe said Joseph Mtonga, 31, of Lundazi was murdered by four Malawians on the outskirts of Embangweni in Malawi early this month.
She said this during a joint police security conference in Chipata yesterday.
“We have come here to give our condolences to the people of Zambia over the death of our brother Joseph Mtonga who was brutally murdered by four Malawians when he went to Malawi to collect his tobacco money from one of the accused,” Ms Gondwe said.
She said Mr Mtonga met his fate when he gave one of the suspects bales of tobacco to sell on his behalf but that the suspect did not remit the money as agreed.
She described Mr Mtonga’s murder as inhuman and that such acts should not be condoned.
And Eastern Province commissioner of police Grace Chipalila commended police in Malawi for working with their Zambian counterparts to arrest the suspects identified as Christopher Chirwa, 54, and his relatives Norma Chirwa, 25 and Allan Chirwa , 24.
Zambia Daily Mail