Toddler dies on his birthday in Knysna fire

George - The boy who died in the Knysna fire on Wednesday had been celebrating his third birthday, while his mom, who also died, was eight months pregnant.

This has been revealed by Tony Johnston’s brother-in-law, Wynand Stander, Netwerk24 reported on Thursday.

The bodies of Tony, his wife Madré and 3-year-old Michael were found outside their house on the farm Kalanderkloof in the Elandskraal area. According to the police they had been overcome by smoke.

Wynand said Tony’s parents, Thomas and Nielen Johnston from Uitenhage, became concerned on Wednesday morning when they couldn’t get hold of their son. It apparently was tradition that they would sing a birthday song for Michael on his birthday.

“They also phoned Tony’s boss in Knysna, only to be told that he hadn’t pitched for work."

According to Stander the employer drove to Johnston’s house. On his way there he met up with police and they went to the house together, where they found the bodies.

The employer tried to phone Johnston’s parents, but the cellphone reception wasn’t good. Just after breaking the news to them, the cellphone died.  

“They immediately drove to Knysna,” said Stander. There they confirmed with police that all three had died.

Stander said the Johnstons were a close knit family. “They loved one another,“ he said.

A memorial service is to be held for the family at Humansdorp next week Thursday. The couple and their son will be cremated. 

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