Fire kills 4 toddlers

2015-06-04 06:00
Four children died in the fire, in Site B, Khayelitsha, on Tuesday everning.

Mbongiseni Maseko

Four children died in the fire, in Site B, Khayelitsha, on Tuesday everning. PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

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Four toddlers were burnt to death after their shack caught fire while their mother and aunt left to go to church in Khayelitsha, on Monday.

The fire started in their shack at about 7pm in Site B.

Lunga Vellem, the uncle of the deceased children, said his sister, Zukiswa Vellem, told him that she had left her children Azizipho Vellem, 1, Ntombizanele Vellem, 3, and nieces Olwabo Vellem, 1, and Ayakha Vellem, 6, alone in their shack as she went to church.

Vellem, who also stays in the neighbourhood, said he got a call from neighbours that his sister’s shack was on fire.

“The neighbours heard screams for help and we then rushed to help, but there was little that we could do to save them.

My sister told me that after she had fed the children, some went to sleep and she left for church.”

The fire then spread to the neighbour’s house and gutted it to the ground.

It was not clear what caused the fire.

The children were due to leave the city to stay with their grandmother in the Eastern Cape, at the end of the month.

Zukiswa Vellem was too traumatised to speak to City Vision on Tuesday.

Vellem said Zukiswa and their sister Lungiswa Vincent have since been taken for counselling.

“I am very heartbroken. The children were very young to go through this. Their bodies were found next to the door, it means they were trying to run away from the flames.

Their mothers are in a very bad state of mind. I am appealing to anyone who can help us bury the children,” he said.

Vellem just got a job few days ago.

He said it the funeral arrangements were not finalised yet.

Xolisa Madlavu, a neighbour whose family house was also burnt down, said they could only save his mother’s Identity Document (ID) and that everything else was destroyed by the fire.

“We were busy trying to rescue the children when our house caught fire. It was late by the time we saw that our house was also on fire. We did not expect the whole thing,” Madlavu said.

Councillor Luvuyo Hebe, of Ward 90, said the national Department of Human Settlement, the Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC), and the Department of Social Development came to the area and that they promised to help the affected families

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