Five die in midlands blazes

2009-08-03 00:00

FIVE people — three little girls and an elderly couple — died in two house fires in the midlands at the weekend.

On Saturday evening in Imbali, an elderly couple burned to death when their home was gutted by fire.

The woman was wheelchair-bound after a stroke and the man was sickly due to old age.

Neighbours who spoke to The Witness yesterday said they do not know how the fire started, but at around 8 pm, they heard the couple screaming and tried to assist. They said when they got there, the fire had already engulfed the house and they could not get in.

Sibongile Ngcobo said some men tried to get the couple out of the house, but were unsuccessful and were injured in the process.

“Two youths tried to rescue them but they were injured by the blaze and had to be hospitalised.”

Derrick Banks of ER24 described their injuries as “severe burns to their hands and feet”.

When The Witness visited the family yesterday they were in shock and could not speak to the media.

The gutted house was filled with neighbours shaking their heads in disbelief.

The interior of the house was darkened by the fire with the windows broken. Furniture and heaters were reduced to bare metal. The only thing that remained was a satellite dish that was located on the side of the house.

In the other incident, in Bulwer three girls, aged two, four and five, died of smoke inhalation when their home was set alight, allegedly by their mother’s boyfriend.

Senior superintendent Henry Budhram said Bongekile Dlamini and the man apparently had an argument, which turned violent, forcing Dlamini to flee the house. She was followed by the suspect who later returned and allegedly set the house alight.

People who witnessed the incident tried to save the children, but the smoke had already killed them.

Budhram said the man has since been arrested and will appear in the Bulwer Magistrate’s Court soon.

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