Ashes to ashes

DECEASED: Tsaone Thateng Tumelo

Burnt to death woman gets LGBTQ community worried

Was she murdered or did she die in a freak fire accident?

That is the question on the minds and mouths of her friends, especially in the LGBT community where she lived and thrived.

A well-known human rights activist in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual and Transgender , (LGBTQ) community of Botswana has died a horrible death, which many suspect could have been a cruel act of homophobia.

Tsaone Thateng Tumelo was roasted alive in her house while sleeping at night. She died in hospital where she was admitted with first-degree burns.

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The 30 -year-old Tumelo of Sekamelong ward in Molepolole was laid to rest on Sunday at Ga Ranta cemetery amid confusion and speculations over her cause of death.

Ashes to ashes
LAID TO REST: Tsaone Thateng Tumelo

Whilst police said Tumelo was burnt by candle wax that she was heating up to make floor polish, her friends have argued that the candle could not have eaten the flesh off her face and burnt her entire body as well as damage her inner parts in the process.

“ Her window was open and her bed was by the window, we suspect someone might have doused her with acid because how can wax burn her so deeply as to eat her flesh?” asked a worried member of the LGBTQ community who asked not to be named.

However her cousin, Malebogo Tumelo revealed to the mourners during the memorial service held last Thursday that her aunt’s daughter lost her life due to a fire accident.

“She was taken to Princess Marina Hospital on Friday (November 11th, 2022) where she was referred to Sidilega. On Wednesday around 9pm we were called only to be informed that she has died,” said Malebogo.

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Sir Seretse Khama Airport Police Station Commander, Superintendent Mmoloke Sebako, confirmed that the incident occurred in Block 8 and a neighbor reported it to them two days later, on Sunday.

“We received a report when the deceased was already hospitalised at Sidilega Hospital, she was at Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and since she was unable to speak, we never interviewed her. We only received information from the neighbour saying a candle spilled on her,” explained Superintendent Sebako, adding that none of Tumelo’s relatives had ever brought up the possibility of her being doused with acid.

Superintendent Sebako further insisted that although nothing else in the house was burnt except Tumelo, even the post-mortem results had showed that she was burnt to death by melted candle wax.

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He said the police also discovered the melted candle spread all over the floor inside the kitchen.

Superintendent Sebako further disclosed that police were told that Tumelo was alone on the fateful night and that after the candle burnt her, she managed to drag herself to the neighbours where she collapsed before she was taken to the hospital.

Meanwhile one of Tumelo’s best friends, Changu Newman described her as an outgoing and loving person. “Tumelo loved nature, she loved the sunrise and sunset, she loved the moon and water and she also had a vision to own a farm where she could enjoy nature.

“She was a kind, humble, bubbly and charismatic young lady who enjoyed quad biking, and horse riding too,” said the friend.

Tumelo is survived by her mother, two elder brothers, two nephews and a niece. May she rest in peace, survives her!

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