Child (4) dies in house fire

2018-06-27 06:03

THE family of a four-year old boy has been left traumatised after they witnessed the toddler die in a house fire at their Ashdown home last Friday.

Ibongwe Hlongwane’s grandfather braved the flames in an attempt to save the boy, but his efforts went in vain as the fire had already spiralled out of control.

Nokwanda Zuma, Ibongwe’s aunt, said they were unaware of how the fire started.

Speaking to Echo, Zuma said everything happened in the blink of an eye.

“The building that Ibongwe was in is an outbuilding. It has one room, which my mother uses as a storage facility, which we don’t use often. It had sponges, our old school books and clothes. When he [Ibongwe] left the main house, no one noticed him leave because he followed his mother who went to fetch something from another outside building. We thought that he followed his mother.

“My father [Ibongwe’s grandfather] decided to stay the night and proceeded to the storage room to sleep. When he opened the door, the room was on fire with Ibongwe inside. He was hiding behind the door shouting “mama”. His mother tried to get into the house to save him but the fire was out of control so we had to stop her. She was burnt on her face while trying to enter the house.

“We called the firefighters but, by the time they came, it was too late. We had to watch Ibongwe die in that fire that lasted about two hours,” said an emotional Zuma.

She said the fire department responded about an hour after the family reported the fire.

Zuma said they are devastated by Ibongwe’s death and it will take time for them to heal.

“We suspect that Ibongwe lit paper which was in the room and, when he saw that the fire was spreading, he tried to extinguish it using clothes and other papers and that probably made things worse. Instead of him coming out of the house, he decided to hide. I think he got scared and did not know what to do.”

Zuma described Ibongwe as a “good child”. She said he was “very smart and handsome and he was so different from other children”.

He was in grade 4 at Ashdown Primary School. “He was extra-ordinary and I guess that is why he left us so early.

“It is not easy. We can’t even eat. We have lost our best child. i such a horrible experience.”

Zuma said funeral arrangements have not been finalised as they are still waiting for the forensic report.

Ward 23 counsellor Dumisani Phungula visited the family on Saturday. Phungula has pledged that they will do anything they can to assist.

“It is not my ward but I had to go and support my family because ward 1 counsellor Jabu Ngubo, who is also Msunduzi speaker, was not available. What happened to that family is very painful. It is something that we do not wish for anyone. That child was so young and he had a bright future ahead of him, now he is gone.We will support the family every step of the way until they get over this traumatic experience. We will even organise counselling for them,” said Phungula.

“When he opened the door, the room was on fire with Ibongwe inside. He was hiding behind the door shouting “mama” . His mother tried to get into the house to save him but the fire was out of control so we had to stop her,” Nokwanda Zuma recounts the night of the fire.

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