Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

22 February 2013

Tanzania: Woman Dies in Mysterious Night Fire

Arusha — Visiting grandma is always an exciting excursion for any youngster, but for Ms Janeth Peterson, 16, her arrival at her grandmother's house turned into a living nightmare.

Her grandmother, Ms Elishusa Zakaria, 75, was reduced to ashes when her bed mysteriously caught fire, leaving the rest of the house unscathed by the internal inferno. Initial police reports indicate that the three-roomed house in Mfuloni Village in Ndohombo ward of Arumeru District, left neighbours mesmerized, because it was the visiting granddaughter who came upon the grisly remains.

Speaking to our reporter, the Arusha Regional Police Commander, Mr Liberatus Sabas said the fire which allegedly killed the 75-year-old lady on Wednesday this week razed just the deceased's bed while the rest of the house, including furniture, remained intact. He said that neighbours did not notice anything strange until her grand-daughter arrived for the visit and entered the house whose door was not locked.

"What we have at the moment are early reports indicating that the old woman could have died after flames from her locally manufactured tin kerosene lamp popularly known as 'Koroboi,' fell onto her mattress and totally burned the bed and its occupant," stated Commander Sabas. He said that the fire later razed the wooden bed, the beddings and clothes that were nearby, saying that the lady who lived alone in the house which she also owned, was fast asleep when the incident occurred.

Neighbours of the late woman are still wondering on how the woman could have died in such strange circumstances, with others puzzled over the fact that she retired to bed with her door still unlocked. "It is possible that the deceased might be a victim of killings which target old women which is associated with witchcraft, just like the problem which is currently affecting the lake zone regions of Mwanza and Shinyanga," said one neighbour who requested anonymity.

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