AT LEAST 1,2 million kilograms of cotton lint with an estimated value of US$2,5 million has been destroyed by fire at a ginning site at Checheche Growth Point in Chipinge South.
The fire broke out in the early hours of yesterday at a Cotton Company of Zimbabwe Limited (Cottco) ginning site.
Police say an unidentified suspect allegedly left a note threatening to cause more fire at the scene where more than 5300 cotton bales were burnt in Cheche yesterday.
A note addressed to one CC was found by the site threatening to cause more fire if the suspect fails to receive his or her money.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the story saying the case will be treated as malicious damage to property.
“Police are investigating a suspected case of malicious damage to property (MDP) following a note found at the site where 5 300 cotton bales were burnt to ashes in Cheche,” said Ass Comm Nyathi.
“The incident took place at 0327hrs when a truck driver loading cotton bales parked his vehicle to make a call.
“While he was making his call he is reported to have spotted a flame of fire towards his vehicle and the cotton lint was burnt to ashes.
“A note was found addressed to CC threatening to cause more fire if the suspect was not going to be paid his or her money within five days.
Investigations have since begun and if the contents of the note turn to be true, the case will be treated as MDP and the law will take its course,” said Ass Comm Nyathi.
Meanwhile, Cottco managing director Pious Manamike confirmed the incident in a statement.
“The fire broke out Monday morning and was detected by a truck driver near the ginnery who immediately alerted the guards and management,” he said.
“Fire tenders from Green fuels and Hippo Valley were called in to assist in extinguishing the fire.
The fire-fighting operation was hampered by strong winds that were being experienced in the area at that time.”
Manamike said the cause of the fire has not yet been established and investigations were underway.
“Preliminary assessment indicated that the company lost about 1 221 000 kg of cotton lint that was ready for export with an estimated value of US$2 500 000, and a forklift was also lost in the inferno,” he said.
“The fire is still raging on as fire fighters continue with their efforts to extinguish it.”
This year, Zimbabwe projects cotton production at 150m kilogrammes, which is nearly double the 2020 output.