Ms Tendani Sikhala (right), the mother of the mentally ill young boy who set alight his mother's house, holds some remains of burned stock of her knitting. Also in the photo is her friend, Ms Konanani Mudau (left).

Mentally ill son sets mom's house on fire


A mentally ill young man of Ha-Mangilasi Block A in the Vuwani area allegedly set his mother’s house alight, leaving the family without a place to stay.

The single mother of three children, Ms Tendani Sikhala (45), said life was a nightmare after her 18-year-old mentally ill son had set alight her four-room house on Friday afternoon. In the process, clothes, books, school uniforms, and all knitting stock waiting to be taken by customers burnt to ashes.

According to Sikhala, her mentally ill son used to live a normal life with other children in the family, but sometimes “he is possessed by evil spirits” that make him threaten to damage everything at home.

“On the day of the incident, he went crazy and threatened to kill himself and demanded that his mother send him to stay with his father. Apparently, at about 13:00 that day, he took a box of matches and suddenly set the house alight, said Sikhala.

Sikhala, who works from her house, is a well-known fashion designer in her village. She also makes a living out of making school uniforms, Tshivenda traditional attire and wedding regalia. The stock that was waiting to be bought by customers was all destroyed by the fire. She added that the damage was estimated to be more than R50 000 and asked for a good Samaritan for help as she had no other job to support the family.

Sikhala said they had reported the matter to the local Vuwani police station. On arrival, the police officer who investigated the matter said he could not open an arson case as the alleged culprit was mentally ill and was later sent to Tshilidzini Hospital for medical observation and treatment. “The police only left us with an affidavit to show that the house was set on fire by a mentally ill member of the family.”

Ms Susan Ravuku of Vhembe Youth Empowerment Programme, a non-governmental organization working in the Vuwani area, heard about the incident and intervened by applying for identity documents for the family members and for the government’s relief fund.

Those wishing to help the distraught woman with work can phone Ms Tendani Sikhala at 076 891 4416 or her mother at 072 400 3320.




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Date:24 July 2020 - By: Silas Nduvheni

Silas Nduvheni



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