Inferno guts shopping mall

Victor Maphosa Herald Correspondent

TRADERS at a new shopping mall at corner Robert Mugabe Road and Chinhoyi Street in the capital were left counting their losses after goods worth thousands of dollars were burnt to ashes in a fire yesterday morning.

When The Herald visited the building which formerly housed Agribank, shop owners were still in shock.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the incident.

“Our teams are on the ground carrying out investigations to ascertain the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage,” he said.

Assistant Divisional Officer in the City of Harare’s Emergency Services Department Phillip Marufu said they could not ascertain the cause of the fire.

“We cannot really determine the cause of fire due to the extensive damage to both the contents and the building, but due to experience, you can tell by the way the fire spreads, it could have been bottled in the building for quite a long time before it was reported,” he said.

One of the shop owners, Eunice Makungwa, who had her goods destroyed, was devastated.

“I have a shop in this building and I sell shoes for children. A few days ago, I had stocked my shop with school uniforms, in preparation for back-to-school shoppers. All of that has been destroyed and this is devastating,” she said.

Another shop owner, who identified herself only as Angelica, said the shop was her only source of income.

“I do not know what to do next, I am so hurt. This shop was my only source of income. This is where money to put food on the table came from, school fees for my children and the money for their upkeep was generated from this shop.

“I do not know where to start from,” the visibly shaken Angelica said.

Another shop owner who refused to be named said he had borrowed money to start a business at the mall and was expecting to make a profit.

“I recently took a loan from my friend and had just started my small business of buying and selling cellphones and television sets. I definitely have to repay that loan, but now I do not know how I am going to do that since all my goods have been destroyed in the fire. My children need school fees, I am now stuck,” he said.

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