A Zimbabwean woman and her teenage son who died in car fire in Thorpe Bay Esplanade have been named

Southend Standard: The terrible scene. Pic: Echo reader PAUL SMITH The terrible scene. Pic: Echo reader PAUL SMITH

A MOTHER may have been responsible for killing her son and taking her own life by starting a car fire  in Thorpe Bay yesterday, police say. 

Officers believe the bodies in the black Vauxhall Vectra are those of Catherine Mhlaba, 45, of Blythe Avenue, Shoebury, and her 16-year-old son Beki Ali, who suffered from extreme global delay - meaning he had a mental age of about six-years-old.

However, cops said formal identification is likely to take several weeks.

The tragic deaths are being investigated by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate and their investigation is currently looking at the possibility that Catherine Mhlaba was responsible for killing her son and taking her own life by starting the fire inside the car.

It is understood Catherine was the daughter of a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe.

Reports suggest she played a key role in Southend's MDC branch.

Detectives are appealing for anyone with information to contact them at Southend on 101.

They are particularly keen to hear from a dog walker who may have been in the area at about 5.20pm or anyone who may have seen the car at any time either before or during the fire.

Police are aware some people may have taken moving footage or images on mobile devices at the time and would ask for these to be made available to detectives.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the car explode and no other cars are thought to be involved.

Fire crews from Southend and Shoebury were called to the scene in Thorpe Esplanade last night.

The firefighters battled the flames but could not save the mum and her son.

Crews were first called to the incident at about 5.20pm.

The fire was put out by 5.50pm.

Southend Standard: Two people die in Thorpe Bay car fire

The stretch of road between the junctions of Thorpe Hall Avenue and Maplin Way was cordoned off by police and a temporary screen erected halfway down the road. 

According to one eyewitness, the car was moving at the time it became engulfed in flames. Paul Smith's girlfriend Mandie Cotton was on her evening run with a friend at the time.

He said: "She was quite upset when she got home but we didn't know anyone was in the car until later on when we saw it online.

"The car was rolling at the time, in a normal driving position, before it exploded and she didn't know whether someone had got out of the car when a fire had started.

"She was only 25 or 50 yards away from the car when it exploded so she was pretty shaken. She said it was really frightening."

Those living near the incident tweeted their horror at watching the fire unfold.

Amy Louise Mills tweeted: "Horrific car fire along Thorpe Bay Gardens, worst thing I have ever witnessed."

Echo reader jaypoulton said: "It was horrific as I was on bus when I saw it. Just hope no one else is involved in this horrific accident. RIP to the people who died in the fire and my thoughts are with your families."

Moira Mason, from Thorpe Bay, added: "I saw the road seafront in Thorpe Bay was closed. 

"There were many police officers there. How terrible this was. I cannot quite believe it. Everyone I saw in the Tesco in Thorpe Bay Broadway tonight were shocked and upset.

"All our thoughts are with the families of those who died. Absolutely awful."

Echo website reader, hmgarwood123, added: "Absolutely devastating! I was driving past when the car exploded. My car's been obtained by the police as it got damaged in the explosion. My heart goes out to the two people and there families. RIP X"

 

Comments (28)

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9:31pm Tue 3 Dec 13

jaypoulton says...

it was horrific as i was on bus when i saw it :L just hope no one else is involved in this horrific accident r.i.p to the people who died in the fire and my thoughts are with your familys
it was horrific as i was on bus when i saw it :L just hope no one else is involved in this horrific accident r.i.p to the people who died in the fire and my thoughts are with your familys jaypoulton

9:50pm Tue 3 Dec 13

paulss1 says...

How absolutely awful. I can't imagine how horrific this must have been. The stuff of nightmares... RIP to the two victims.

SO sad.
How absolutely awful. I can't imagine how horrific this must have been. The stuff of nightmares... RIP to the two victims. SO sad. paulss1

10:07pm Tue 3 Dec 13

a-local-girl says...

Rip to the two that died and condolences to their family's especially at this time of the year
Rip to the two that died and condolences to their family's especially at this time of the year a-local-girl

10:19pm Tue 3 Dec 13

hmgarwood123 says...

Absolutely devastating! I was driving past when the car exploded. My cars been obtained by the police as it got damaged in the explosion. My heart goes out to the two people and there families. RIP X
Absolutely devastating! I was driving past when the car exploded. My cars been obtained by the police as it got damaged in the explosion. My heart goes out to the two people and there families. RIP X hmgarwood123

10:22pm Tue 3 Dec 13

PromiseMoyo says...

It was a mother and her 15year old son I know her, she my mums friend
It was a mother and her 15year old son I know her, she my mums friend PromiseMoyo

10:30pm Tue 3 Dec 13

jaypoulton says...

PromiseMoyo wrote:
It was a mother and her 15year old son I know her, she my mums friend
omg how do you know this ? are you sure as they not identified the bodys ?
[quote][p][bold]PromiseMoyo[/bold] wrote: It was a mother and her 15year old son I know her, she my mums friend[/p][/quote]omg how do you know this ? are you sure as they not identified the bodys ? jaypoulton

11:40pm Tue 3 Dec 13

pendulum says...

I'd speculate suicide over an accident... cars don't just explode like in the movies... unless someone fills the inside with petrol or something. RIP. :(
I'd speculate suicide over an accident... cars don't just explode like in the movies... unless someone fills the inside with petrol or something. RIP. :( pendulum

11:49pm Tue 3 Dec 13

ltsebo says...

Oh Lord Jesus Christ why really? She was a loving mother why! What a lovely boy she had, May their souls rest in peace Lord.
Oh Lord Jesus Christ why really? She was a loving mother why! What a lovely boy she had, May their souls rest in peace Lord. ltsebo

9:39am Wed 4 Dec 13

_Lotus_ says...

Stop speculating who or why it was, there are no definite answers as yet, as for giving out the identities of those involved, that is out of order, lest the families and friends of the deceased may have not yet been informed!!!!!.

RIP to the two people who died, my heart goes out to the families involved, this is beyond horrific and traumatic.
Stop speculating who or why it was, there are no definite answers as yet, as for giving out the identities of those involved, that is out of order, lest the families and friends of the deceased may have not yet been informed!!!!!. RIP to the two people who died, my heart goes out to the families involved, this is beyond horrific and traumatic. _Lotus_

9:59am Wed 4 Dec 13

InTheKnowOk says...

Horrific ,... R.I.P whoever they were ..
Horrific ,... R.I.P whoever they were .. InTheKnowOk

12:54pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Who_Flung_Dung says...

pendulum wrote:
I'd speculate suicide over an accident... cars don't just explode like in the movies... unless someone fills the inside with petrol or something. RIP. :(
Have you not seen the most recent James Bond Film?
[quote][p][bold]pendulum[/bold] wrote: I'd speculate suicide over an accident... cars don't just explode like in the movies... unless someone fills the inside with petrol or something. RIP. :([/p][/quote]Have you not seen the most recent James Bond Film? Who_Flung_Dung

1:18pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Kim Gandy says...

How in hell could this happen? Seriously, I mean how?
How in hell could this happen? Seriously, I mean how? Kim Gandy

2:30pm Wed 4 Dec 13

amysimmonds says...

r.i.p 2 more angels sent to heaven. this was my brothers very good friend xx
r.i.p 2 more angels sent to heaven. this was my brothers very good friend xx amysimmonds

2:46pm Wed 4 Dec 13

DogsMessInLeigh says...

sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe. DogsMessInLeigh

4:30pm Wed 4 Dec 13

kitkat wrapper says...

Don't believe the movies. Cars don't just explode.
Don't believe the movies. Cars don't just explode. kitkat wrapper

4:39pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
A very serious connection you make.
[quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.[/p][/quote]A very serious connection you make. Nowthatsworthknowing

4:44pm Wed 4 Dec 13

DogsMessInLeigh says...

Nowthatsworthknowing wrote:
DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
A very serious connection you make.
You think.

Quote The Evening Echo:..
" The woman is believed to have lived in Shoebury and was the daughter of a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe.

Reports suggest she played a key role in Southend's MDC branch.

Police are treating the incident as "unexplained" and are believed to be addressing the media later. "

End quote.


so what do you make of it then..?
[quote][p][bold]Nowthatsworthknowing[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.[/p][/quote]A very serious connection you make.[/p][/quote]You think. Quote The Evening Echo:.. " The woman is believed to have lived in Shoebury and was the daughter of a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe. Reports suggest she played a key role in Southend's MDC branch. Police are treating the incident as "unexplained" and are believed to be addressing the media later. " End quote. so what do you make of it then..? DogsMessInLeigh

6:11pm Wed 4 Dec 13

DogsMessInLeigh says...

pendulum wrote:
I'd speculate suicide over an accident... cars don't just explode like in the movies... unless someone fills the inside with petrol or something. RIP. :(
Updated now new info has come out:...seems you may have had something soon after the news came out.
[quote][p][bold]pendulum[/bold] wrote: I'd speculate suicide over an accident... cars don't just explode like in the movies... unless someone fills the inside with petrol or something. RIP. :([/p][/quote]Updated now new info has come out:...seems you may have had something soon after the news came out. DogsMessInLeigh

8:01pm Wed 4 Dec 13

planetdreamerdt says...

It seems the poor soul could no longer cope with her son's illness. Must have been desparate. May they both RIP.
It seems the poor soul could no longer cope with her son's illness. Must have been desparate. May they both RIP. planetdreamerdt

11:05pm Wed 4 Dec 13

smitchelll says...

This was my daughters very good friend. BK was a ray of sunshine, an absolute joy to be around and his smile was contagious. So gentle kind and sweet he will be missed so much. This is so tragic, all that matters for now is respect for the family x RIP Cathy and BK X
This was my daughters very good friend. BK was a ray of sunshine, an absolute joy to be around and his smile was contagious. So gentle kind and sweet he will be missed so much. This is so tragic, all that matters for now is respect for the family x RIP Cathy and BK X smitchelll

9:14am Thu 5 Dec 13

burlesque says...

i think there is more to this,as its all still closed and forensics are every where. Mugabe is not a nice man.......
i think there is more to this,as its all still closed and forensics are every where. Mugabe is not a nice man....... burlesque

9:47am Thu 5 Dec 13

Jb66 says...

No-one can possibly know the facts yet, it could have been murder, it could have been murder/suicide, I doubt it was an accident, as said before cars don't just explode that's only in the films. Maybe she was ill and worried about who'd care for her son, or he could have been targeted by thugs, remember the other woman who did this with her disabled daughter a few years ago, when the police would help her stop the thugs targeting her daughter? The truth will come out eventually. RIP a horrific way to die nonetheless.
No-one can possibly know the facts yet, it could have been murder, it could have been murder/suicide, I doubt it was an accident, as said before cars don't just explode that's only in the films. Maybe she was ill and worried about who'd care for her son, or he could have been targeted by thugs, remember the other woman who did this with her disabled daughter a few years ago, when the police would help her stop the thugs targeting her daughter? The truth will come out eventually. RIP a horrific way to die nonetheless. Jb66

10:02am Thu 5 Dec 13

jade2000 says...

this story is heart breaking this mother must of been suffering from depression or something to take her and her sons life in such a horrific way ,I live just around the corner to were they live and when I found out who it was I couldn't believe it as my daughter new beki and use to play with him and some other kids in saxon gardens ,my daughter said he had learning difficulties but he was a really sweet boy ,this is so very sad my thoughts go out to all there family and prayes go out to beki and his mum ,now with the angels r.i.p .
this story is heart breaking this mother must of been suffering from depression or something to take her and her sons life in such a horrific way ,I live just around the corner to were they live and when I found out who it was I couldn't believe it as my daughter new beki and use to play with him and some other kids in saxon gardens ,my daughter said he had learning difficulties but he was a really sweet boy ,this is so very sad my thoughts go out to all there family and prayes go out to beki and his mum ,now with the angels r.i.p . jade2000

10:30am Thu 5 Dec 13

heartbeat says...

jade2000 wrote:
this story is heart breaking this mother must of been suffering from depression or something to take her and her sons life in such a horrific way ,I live just around the corner to were they live and when I found out who it was I couldn't believe it as my daughter new beki and use to play with him and some other kids in saxon gardens ,my daughter said he had learning difficulties but he was a really sweet boy ,this is so very sad my thoughts go out to all there family and prayes go out to beki and his mum ,now with the angels r.i.p .
It's so sad and an awful thing to happen. RIP to the mother and her son and condolences to everyone who knew them. From comments it sounds as though they were popular, friendly people.
[quote][p][bold]jade2000[/bold] wrote: this story is heart breaking this mother must of been suffering from depression or something to take her and her sons life in such a horrific way ,I live just around the corner to were they live and when I found out who it was I couldn't believe it as my daughter new beki and use to play with him and some other kids in saxon gardens ,my daughter said he had learning difficulties but he was a really sweet boy ,this is so very sad my thoughts go out to all there family and prayes go out to beki and his mum ,now with the angels r.i.p .[/p][/quote]It's so sad and an awful thing to happen. RIP to the mother and her son and condolences to everyone who knew them. From comments it sounds as though they were popular, friendly people. heartbeat

12:57pm Thu 5 Dec 13

southend_Dave says...

DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
Nowthatsworthknowing wrote:
DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
A very serious connection you make.
You think.

Quote The Evening Echo:..
" The woman is believed to have lived in Shoebury and was the daughter of a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe.

Reports suggest she played a key role in Southend's MDC branch.

Police are treating the incident as "unexplained" and are believed to be addressing the media later. "

End quote.


so what do you make of it then..?
I make of it that she had a disabled son and wanted to put him out of his 'misery'.

Exactly the same thing happened a couple of years back when a woman did the same thing,

To try to suggest some conspiracy theory over the Mugabe connection is a bit pathetic.
[quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Nowthatsworthknowing[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.[/p][/quote]A very serious connection you make.[/p][/quote]You think. Quote The Evening Echo:.. " The woman is believed to have lived in Shoebury and was the daughter of a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe. Reports suggest she played a key role in Southend's MDC branch. Police are treating the incident as "unexplained" and are believed to be addressing the media later. " End quote. so what do you make of it then..?[/p][/quote]I make of it that she had a disabled son and wanted to put him out of his 'misery'. Exactly the same thing happened a couple of years back when a woman did the same thing, To try to suggest some conspiracy theory over the Mugabe connection is a bit pathetic. southend_Dave

2:46pm Thu 5 Dec 13

DogsMessInLeigh says...

southend_Dave wrote:
DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
Nowthatsworthknowing wrote:
DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
A very serious connection you make.
You think.

Quote The Evening Echo:..
" The woman is believed to have lived in Shoebury and was the daughter of a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe.

Reports suggest she played a key role in Southend's MDC branch.

Police are treating the incident as "unexplained" and are believed to be addressing the media later. "

End quote.


so what do you make of it then..?
I make of it that she had a disabled son and wanted to put him out of his 'misery'.

Exactly the same thing happened a couple of years back when a woman did the same thing,

To try to suggest some conspiracy theory over the Mugabe connection is a bit pathetic.
Yes....so does everyone else now, seeing as the Echo updated the story with this extra info AFTER some posts where made ..., please keep up at the back.
[quote][p][bold]southend_Dave[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Nowthatsworthknowing[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: sounds a bit suspect now theres been an update, some connection to the opposition in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.[/p][/quote]A very serious connection you make.[/p][/quote]You think. Quote The Evening Echo:.. " The woman is believed to have lived in Shoebury and was the daughter of a founder member of the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition to Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe. Reports suggest she played a key role in Southend's MDC branch. Police are treating the incident as "unexplained" and are believed to be addressing the media later. " End quote. so what do you make of it then..?[/p][/quote]I make of it that she had a disabled son and wanted to put him out of his 'misery'. Exactly the same thing happened a couple of years back when a woman did the same thing, To try to suggest some conspiracy theory over the Mugabe connection is a bit pathetic.[/p][/quote]Yes....so does everyone else now, seeing as the Echo updated the story with this extra info AFTER some posts where made ..., please keep up at the back. DogsMessInLeigh

7:58pm Thu 5 Dec 13

pjpjpj says...

r.i.p both of you, At the end of the day what ever happened there is still other children of hers to think about so maybe think about that when commenting
r.i.p both of you, At the end of the day what ever happened there is still other children of hers to think about so maybe think about that when commenting pjpjpj

8:44am Fri 6 Dec 13

Who_Flung_Dung says...

Selfish mother!!!!

RIP little boy!!!
Selfish mother!!!! RIP little boy!!! Who_Flung_Dung

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