By Donald Kiirya
Eighteen families were left homeless after a series of fire outbreaks destroyed their homes at Soweto village, Jinja district in the past one week.
The actual cause of the vicious fires remains a mystery although residents suspect that witchdoctors in the area have a hand in it.
One of the residents, James Wanda, said some of the locals believed that spirits caused the fires since there are many witchdoctors with shrines living in the affected village.
Wanda reported three fire incidents in the past week: On February 2, two houses were brought down, another five were destroyed just a day after and then the latest on Monday where 11 families lost their homes, bringing the total to 18.
The latest inferno, which razed 11 homes, was battled by a determined army of residents and Jinja Central Police Station fire fighters.
In one of the incidents, the firefighting group kicked down the walls of the houses which were on fire and silenced the raging fire with sticks.
Dick Naigobya, who lost all his property but a bed and a mattress in the fires, said the residents would mobilize their leaders and witchdoctors in the village for a meeting in order to establish the likely cause of the continuous fires at the village.
Naigobya’s house was razed last Friday afternoon at about 3pm. He says the fire started from the roof tops. The fire, which ate up other four houses on the same day, lasted for about two hours, until it was finally subdued.
Naigobya wondered why it was only the grass-thatched houses that were being burnt but not those roofed with iron sheets.
But the Jinja District Police Constable (DPC), Jonathan Musinguzi disagreed with the locals’ association of the fires with witchcraft, and called for cooperation of the residents with the Police in the investigations.
“Some people are saying these are spirits which caused the fire but I disagree with that.
“As Police, we shall set up a committee which will work in hand with residents to find out the cause of the fire and I urge residents to provide useful information to the committee,” Musinguzi explained.
The residents joined arms to save what they could, but at the end of it all, 18 homes had been brought down by the angry fire. PHOTO by Donald Kirya
The police constable promised the locals that he would consult with the Resident District Commissioner, Judith Rwakishumba, so that government finds a way of helping the affected families.
He advised residents to always avoid mere suspicions.