Child (4) dies in blaze

2018-11-15 06:01
PHOTO: andile sitholeGoodness Mbuyisa (left) talks to community activist Bongiwe Dladla.

PHOTO: andile sitholeGoodness Mbuyisa (left) talks to community activist Bongiwe Dladla.

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THE family of a four-year-old child who died in a shack fire in Parkgate, Verulam, on Saturday, have denied allegations that the house was set on fire.

Reports on social media claim that the grandmother’s boyfriend set the house alight while the children were asleep.

One of the family members, Goodness Mbuyisa (56), said she was asleep when her neighbour alerted her to the fire.

The three children, Sabelo Mbuyisa (10), Sbusiso Mbuyisa (7) and Melokuhle Mkhize (4), were inside the house when the fire started. According to Mbuyisa, the grandmother of the children left a candle burning inside shack.

“We were unable to save Melokuhle because the house was engulfed in flames. Her brother Sabelo tried to pull her out of the flames but it was too late,” she said.

The two boys escaped with minor burns.

“My neighbour kicked the door open and pulled out the two boys. Neighbours and other family members tried to douse the flames of the fire, but unfortunately all our attempts did not work. The child burnt to death inside the house.”

When asked about the social media comments that said that the grandmother’s boyfriend set the house on fire, she said: “Sabelo told the police what happened. It was their grandmother who left the candle burning in the house. We suspect that it fell and the house caught alight,” Mbuyisa said.

Neighbour Chazile Skhakhane (46) said the death of young Melokuhle has left the community devastated.

“On Saturday afternoon she was with my child playing at home. The death of such a young child in this manner is shocking. On the day of the incident I could not eat the whole day,” Skhakhane said.

Police spokesperson in Verulam Captain Henry Kisten said: “An inquest docket was opened. The grandmother left the three children in the shack attached to the house at 8 pm. It is alleged that she left the children to go look for her boyfriend. She left the candle burning. At 11 pm, the community heard the screams of the children and the smoke and contacted the police. The community managed to rescue the two boys. The girl could not be rescued and was burnt to death. The fire crew arrived and put out the fire.

“The 10-year-old child sustained burns to his right leg and the seven-year-old had burn wounds to the right hand. Verulam SAPS members attended to the injured children who were then taken to hospital by ambulance.”

The family lost ID documents, clothes, furniture and food which were inside when the fire gutted their house.

Melokuhle’s memorial service will be held in Bhamshela, Upper Tongaat, on November 10, followed by a funeral on November 11.

DA PR councillor Chris Langa said: “The death of a child, especially in shack fire, is unacceptable. I am going to visit the family to donate blankets and food.”

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