I will always blame myself for toddlers' hot car death - Durban mechanic

2016-01-21 07:11
Durban mechanic Ernest Phiri (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Durban mechanic Ernest Phiri (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – Mechanic Ernest Phiri blames himself for the deaths of two children in a car he was due to repair on Tuesday afternoon. 

"I will always blame myself because Asiphile was like a daughter to me. We used to go to the tuck shop together, so I am very hurt,” he said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, cousins Bayanda Sithole, 3, and Asiphile Sithole, 3, were found dead next to one another in a red Toyota Corolla parked in the sun in Phiri’s yard in Clermont, west of Durban.

Two other toddlers, Ayabongwa Sithole 2 and Phiwokuhle Mtshali, 2, were also in the car. They were admitted to hospital in a critical condition. 

- Read more: Toddlers die after being trapped in hot car

The children had been playing in the car and struggled to get out. They are believed to have died from heatstroke.

Phiri, 35, who works at Dunlop in New Germany, is a neighbour of the Sithole family. He had planned to repair the Toyota after work on Tuesday.

While he was at work he received a phone call to inform him that children had been found dead in the car. He rushed to the hospital because he could not believe what he had heard.

"I am disturbed and really hurt because I treated them like my own children."

Phiri believed it was God's plan.

"Sometimes things happen that we cannot explain and this is one of them. I don't understand why this happened."

He said the car did not have a central locking system.

"I think the children got inside and struggled to open the door. It was incredibly hot [on Tuesday] and the worst part is that the car had black leather seats which absorb heat. I think they lost consciousness and they died."

- More: I warned them to stay away, gran says after toddlers die in car

Phiri said he visited the family and tried to comfort them.

"They don’t blame me for what happened. They know that I never allowed them to play in the car. I wish the car had not been here. It took the lives of these children," said Phiri.

The car’s owner took it away on Tuesday.

Read more on:    durban

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