Petrol for generator, gas freezer spark fatal blaze

2008-05-12 00:00

A BLIND man was burned to death during a tragic accident at his home last week when the house caught fire from petrol kept for a domestic generator.

The fire was fuelled into a huge blaze when a gas cylinder used for the freezer exploded.

Mbongiseni Makhaye was trapped in his room after petrol leaked and caught fire from a gas-operated freezer and set the house alight.

The accident happened last Tuesday afternoon in the Mafakatini area, after Mbongiseni’s sister Thenjiwe (14) switched on the generator.

Mbongiseni’s mother, Jannet, said she had just arrived home from work when the fire started. “It was 6.15 pm and Thenjiwe started the generator and all the lights went on. We had bought some petrol for the generator, but were unaware that the petrol container had a leak.”

“I heard Thenjiwe screaming and as I rushed in, I saw that her back was on fire. I used a big towel to douse the fire, but soon I realised that Mbongiseni was inside and was on fire. Flames were all over his body, I fought hard to put the fire out and eventually it stopped,” said Jannet.

The Makhaye family were able to drag Mbongiseni out of the burning house. “He could talk, but he was badly burnt, his clothes were stuck in his skin, even his head was burnt.”

Mbongiseni’s father, Nhlanhla , said he arrived from work and found his family standing by the gate.

“[Mbongiseni] told me he was sorry that my house had been burnt. I wondered why he was worried about the house and furniture when his burns were so bad, but he kept on apologising for the damage.”

Makhaye said his son was rushed to hospital, where he died later that evening.

“At hospital he kept on telling me how sorry he was about the loss.”

According to Makhaye, Mbongiseni was blind from childhood, but knew his way around the house and was effective in doing all household chores. “Unfortunately he did not see the fire.”

The Makhaye family lost all their clothing, furniture and important documents such as IDs.

Mbongiseni was buried this Saturday at his home.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said an inquest case has been opened.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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