Tale of a fire survivor

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CHARLES MUSONDA w

NOVEMBER 29, 2018 ended as a normal day for John Mwale and his family but little did they know that their lives were about to change in the next few hours.

Mr. Mwale, his wife and the children secured their house and retired to bed but while in deep sleep, a gunshot-like bang ripped through the house in the early hours of November 30, 2018.

When he woke up to check, he was greeted by a flame and smoke bellowing from the electricity prepaid meter in the kitchen and the fire was spreading rapidly through the ceiling board.

He tried to reach for the key to the main door but failed to get it as it was in the kitchen, the source of the blaze  

He however managed to have his wife and older children escape the inferno through the car port door.

“The two youngest children were still inside. The youngest girl is six years and the other one is about seven and I still had to go inside to get them. As I carried the second last child, a burning ceiling board fell on me and I was burnt on my legs, back and left arm.

“I struggled to get in again to carry the last child and I managed but I was badly burnt and within 15 minutes I was rushed to hospital. Even the time the fire fighters came I was already in hospital,” Mr Mwale said in an interview in Lusaka’s Libala Stage Three on Thursday.       

Luckily for him, he insured his property with Professional Insurance, few months before the incident, and the company has come his aid by paying him K357, 128.48 claim. 

“I bought this in April 2018 and I was paying in instalments. I was supposed to pay the last instalment on 31st July 2018 but I was short of money. I decided to get a loan from Cavmont Bank where they advised me to insure the house,” Mr. Mwale said.

He added: “I spent about three weeks in hospital now here we are with Professional Insurance, we thought everything was gone. When they came to hospital and told me that they will rebuild the house, even my healing changed. I healed fast because my mind was now free because for these other things it is easy to buy.

“This is not what I expected from the money that I paid to insure the house. I have come to realise that to insure a house is very important because you don’t lose completely. I have lost these other things but I still have shelter, which I will rebuild through Professional Insurance.”

He has heaped praise on Seventh Day Adventist Njanji Congregation for buying him mattresses for the children, plates and foodstuffs.

He estimates the value of charred household goods to be over K100, 000. Mr. Mwale further thanked Pastor Sapele of Northmead Assembly of God, Pastor John Miyutu of Evangelical Church, neighbours, relatives and friends for the help they have continued to render to him and his family.   

“I am a businessman though medication was very expensive but there was a lot of support from the neighbouring community, friends and relatives. In terms of food, the mealie meal we are eating up to now came from church.

“I thank Colonel Mbewe for giving us accommodation. Although it is an unfinished house it is shelter. We were traumatized but people from church have been counseling us. My children have got used to the situation and they have even started going to school,” he added.

On the cause of the fire, Mr. Mwale suspected an electrical fault and Zesco did an investigation whose report has not yet been availed to him. 

“As you can see, the power service cable from the pole has three joints that are not properly done,” he said.

And speaking during presentation of the dummy cheque to Mr. Mwale, Professional Insurance managing director Moses Siame applauded Mr. Mwale’s courage in the way he acted to save his children.

“We at Professional Insurance believe every life is precious and therefore when we receive claim incident reports after a fire, our main concern is the safety of our clients and their family/staff. We advise our clients to always ensure that they put in mitigation measures to safeguard life at all times.

“As insurance players we are always asked why one needs insurance. The evidence is here. Insurance offers compensation after a loss and allows families and businesses to get back on their feet following a tragedy such as this one,” Mr. Siame said in a speech read for him by chief operating officer Ndayanja Yvonne Bolla Majata. 

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