Two teenagers die in Mooi River fire, Hilton family watch as house burns down

2011-08-22 00:00

TWO families were devastated by house fires at the weekend. Two teenagers died in Mooi River and a Hilton family lost everything they own.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that two teenagers, aged 16 and 17, died when a house caught fire in Bruntville early on Saturday morning.

Zwane said an inquest docket has been opened and a full report will be made available to the media today.

In Dennis Shepstone Drive, Winterskloof, Thabani Ngwira, the Independent Electoral Commission’s KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson, and his family watched their large thatched house go up in flames on Friday night. They have nothing but what they were wearing; for the children, only pyjamas.

Neighbours told The Witness that when they called the Msunduzi Municipality fire department for help, they were referred to the fire department in Howick as Ngwira’s home falls under the uMgungundlovu District , not Msunduzi.

One of the neighbours, Kevin George, said, “We were told that due to protocols they [Msunduzi Municipality] could not attend to the matter.

“Had they come here on time to help, half of the building would have been saved.”

He said the Msunduzi fire department is closer than the one at Howick.

A distraught Ngwira said that the protocol does not make sense to him. “My home was on fire. They [Msunduzi Municipality] had to come here on time and help.”

When Ngwira came back from work, he found his wife, Ntombikayise, and their children sitting in their lounge. [She] kept on saying that she could smell smoke. Minutes later ash fell on the ground and that’s when we knew that the house was on fire.

“I went upstairs and there was a lot of smoke and I could not see where the fire was coming from,” he said.

The family tried to put out the flames but failed.

They had moved into the large house in June.

Friends and colleagues arrived yesterday to provide the family with food, clothing and comfort.

“Laddsworth Primary School came in for assistance and promised to provide the children with school uniforms,” said Ntombikayise.

The Ngwira family are staying with friends in Cleland.

“We cannot stay there forever. We will have to find our own accommodation. Is this the way that we should be celebrating our wedding anniversary?” she asked.

The couple’s anniversary is on August 31. Their marriage certificate was burnt their children’s birth certificates.

Msunduzi fire department chief Billy Paton said, “The Howick fire department was dispatched. Three units from Pietermaritzurg and Ashburton were also dispatched to assist.

“This [Dennis Shepstone Drive] is not our area of jurisdiction but that of uMgungundlovu Municipality.”

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