Woman relives how lover burned her after accusing her of cheating

Gina Xibwama from Hospital Hills informal settlement in Lenasia was severely injured when she was burned by her boyfriend on Monday morning after he accused her of having an affair.
Gina Xibwama from Hospital Hills informal settlement in Lenasia was severely injured when she was burned by her boyfriend on Monday morning after he accused her of having an affair.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

A 26-year-old woman from Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, has described how her boyfriend doused her with paraffin before setting her alight during in a fit of jealous after accusing her of cheating.

Gina Xibwama broke down yesterday when she recalled the events that led to her boyfriend, Sergio Zitha, allegedly setting her alight in their Hospital Hills shack on Monday.

Xibwama suffered burn wounds on her body and face. Zitha, 29, appeared briefly in the Lenasia magistrate's court yesterday where he was charged with attempted murder.

His matter was postponed until Wednesday when he is expected to apply for bail.

Xibwama, who spoke to Sowetan from a place of refuge, said Zitha had threatened to kill her after she arrived late from a wedding in Jabulani, Soweto, on Sunday.

"When I arrived home I could tell he was upset. He tore down the curtain from our shack and poured paraffin onto it and burned it while hurling insults at me," she said.

The mother of two, who is employed as a domestic worker, said Zitha's anger escalated after he demanded to see her phone to determine whether she had been in contact with any male figures.

"I showed him my phone and told him to go through it if he didn't believe me. He shouted at me and said he would kill me. I told him that I was helping out at a wedding where I work after my employer asked me to help them with running the wedding that was taking place at her house," she said.

Xibwama said Zitha was infuriated when he could not find correspondence with any male figure on her phone.

As a result, Xibwama said she decided to sleep at a neighbour's house to allow Zitha's anger to simmer down. "I returned to my shack on Monday morning and found him waiting for me outside," she said.

"He grabbed me by my arm and instructed me to get into the house and sit on the bed. I told him he could kill me if he wanted to but he said he didn't want to kill me... he wanted to hurt me."

She said after a few minutes in the house she attempted to leave but he locked the door.

"He switched on the radio loud before he grabbed a paraffin bottle and poured it on me... then set me alight. I was in a lot of pain and begged him to help me while I was rolling on the floor but he just stared at me."

She said Zitha later opened the door but refused to take her to hospital. "I asked him to take me to clinic but he refused. I ran to a neighbour who saw the condition I was in and took me to a nearby clinic."

Xibwama has not returned home since being discharged from hospital and has been in hiding since.

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