Four members of the same family were burnt to death in the early hours of yesterday when lightning struck the bedroom hut they were sleeping in.
The incident occurred at about 1am in Sasame Village, Sigangatsha area under Chief Malaba in Matobo, Zimbabwe. In an interview yesterday, a relative, Ms Faith Nyathi identified the deceased as Ms Reason Ncube (22), her two children aged two and five months and a niece who was in Grade Three.
"I received a phone call in the morning that Siphethangani (Ms Ncube's other name) and her children had been struck by lightning. We have not really established or understood how it happened but they were sleeping in the same bedroom hut together with a niece known as MaDu when it started raining at night," she said.
Ms Nyathi said the incident had left the family and villagers shocked.
"I stay in a nearby village and we were really shocked when we heard the news. There was not much rain. It was more of a drizzle but there was thunder and lightning. I heard that police attended the scene in the afternoon," she said.
Ms Ncube lived with the three children at the homestead as her husband works in South Africa. Meteorological Services Department's head of Public Weather Service, Mr Tich Zinyemba, said showers accompanied by thunder and lightning were occurring in most parts of the country.
"There is a lot of activity in the whole of Matabeleland region and Masvingo Province with thunderstorm and we expect this to intensify. Lightning and thunder are synonymous with early rains as the atmosphere turns to be violent as we move from the dry to wet weather. It is unfortunate that it has claimed lives. We would want to urge people not to shelter under trees when it is raining. If it starts raining and one is in an open space, he or she should at least sit down because if they remain standing they become the tallest object which is dangerous," said Mr Zinyemba.
He advised members of the community to erect lightning conductors at their homesteads to prevent being struck.
"As the Meteorological Department, we would want to encourage members of the community to erect simple lightning conductors across their homesteads. It is an easy method which involves erecting two poles on either side of the homestead and stretching a mesh wire across the poles and that helps as a lightning conductor," said Mr Zinyemba.
He urged Zimbabweans not to panic about the heat wave that is prevailing in the country, adding that it was too early to say the onset of rains has delayed.