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Petrol bombed pastor succumbs to burns

A PASTOR from Enaleni Village in Bubi District, Matabeleland North, who was petrol bombed and suffered burns to 97 percent of body has died.

Bishop Ephraim Ndlovu (51) of Alive in Christ Pentecostal Church died on Saturday at Mpilo Central Hospital where he had been admitted since Wednesday morning.

He was petrol bombed at his home by unknown men who demanded cash on Tuesday night while outside the house before vanishing into the night.

A Chronicle news crew visited Ndlovu’s family in Bulawayo’s Emganwini suburb where mourners are gathered.

His widow, Mrs Naomi Ndlovu, said her husband’s killers could have had exterior motives as she believes that robbers would have settled for money.

Mrs Ndlovu said before they started making financial demands, they broke windows and started sprinkling petrol into their home.

“They knew what they were doing. They broke window panes and started sprinkling petrol in the house. That’s when we woke up and my husband started negotiating with them asking them what they wanted,” said Mrs Ndlovu.

“One of them said they wanted US$500 and another demanded US$1 000. We were now in the lounge and I realised that I was semi-naked then I moved to the bedroom and grabbed a skirt and a top as I returned to the sitting room.

My husband entered the bedroom. That is when I heard an explosion.”

She said her husband emerged from the bedroom severely burnt and his skin was peeling off. Mrs Ndlovu said at that moment she had managed to gather two of her minor children who were sleeping in another bedroom and called for help as their door could only open from outside.

She said she has been left with nothing as all her property was burnt in the inferno.

“I’m left with six children, three boys and three girls, two of them minors who are supposed to be writing examinations this year. One of them is in Form Four while another is in Form Six. What will I give them? How will I raise the children? The whole house was burnt to ashes, nothing was saved. We no longer have shelter and property,” she said while struggling to contain her tears.

Mrs Ndlovu said it was not true that they were selling petrol in their home.

“The fuel that we had was not in excess of 20 litres, it was for our vehicles at home. We have three of them. My husband ran more than 10 churches in the community and some of them are a bit distant. Storing a little bit of fuel was done so that when there is a need that he could always have some fuel. He would be called to attend to congregants at any time so we thought having fuel at home could assist him in his pastoral work. It wasn’t for resale,” said Mrs Ndlovu.

She said while she cannot say with certainty that her husband was attacked by illegal miners, there are a lot of gold panners in the area who attack community members especially when they do not strike gold.

Community leaders last week said they had recorded more than six attacks in the last 10 months with the pastor’s case being the most serious one. One of pastor’s Ndlovu’s minor children, said she was devastated by her father’s death.

“We had hoped he would recover. This is hard for us. I’m sitting for public examinations and I don’t think I will be in a good state of mind to write, after all we have not been in school for a very long time. Just yesterday we were preparing to visit him, the six of us but we were called while on our way to the hospital and we were told he had passed away.

He was stolen from us,” said the daughter. A congregant Mrs Sinikiwe Mkhwananzi said she has been part of the church for 16 years and Bishop Ndlovu was more of a father figure to them. She urged the police to get to the bottom of the matter.

“It’s painful how he died. We call for police to investigate his murder. We have lost someone we could rely on. He taught us to follow God’s words. We will continue to learn from his footsteps,” she said.

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