Eastern Cape prison boss' wife, two children die in blaze

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Area commissioner, his wife and two children burnt to death in a Tuesday night house inferno.
Area commissioner, his wife and two children burnt to death in a Tuesday night house inferno.
Correctional Services Department
  • Correctional Services said it was shattered after the Mthatha area commissioner's wife and two of his children died in a fire on Tuesday. 
  • Commissioner John Msimango and his youngest child survived after escaping through a window.
  • The cause of the fire on prison grounds was still unknown, the department said.  

A senior Eastern Cape Department of Correctional Services official is fighting for his life in hospital after surviving a fire in which his wife and two of his children were killed. 

John Msimango, an area commissioner, and his youngest child, survived the blaze at their home on the Wellington Prison grounds in Mthatha after managing to escape through a window, said department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo.

The surviving daughter was also in a critical condition.

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They suffered severe burn wounds and were receiving medical attention in hospital, said police spokesperson Brigadier Thembinkosi Kinana.

Wellington prison is one of 45 prisons in the Eastern Cape and is home to some of the country's most dangerous criminals. 

The department said it was shattered by the deaths. 

The fire guttered the area commissioner’s house at about 21:00 on Tuesday, said Nxumalo. 

READ Correctional services official dies of Covid-19

"Most devastatingly, the wife to the area commissioner and two children did not survive the inferno," Nxumalo added.

"The fire department did respond to extinguish the flames, but sadly the three had already succumbed to death. The cause of the fire is not yet known at this stage and an investigation will ensue as the South African Police Services and fire specialists are already on-site."

Nxumalo said trauma counselling was available to staff members who witnessed the incident. 

Nxumalo said:

This is a devastating incident for the department and our sincere condolences goes to the Msimango family.

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In confirming the deaths, Kinana said the three were between 17 and 51-years-old.

Kinana said the cause of the fire was under investigation. 

"The police received a report on Tuesday night that one of the residences at Wellington Prison in Mthatha was gutted. An inquest is under investigation and no foul play is suspected at the moment," said Kinana.  

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