'My children lost their best friends and I've lost mine' - friend of 9 people who died in Kalahari fire

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  • The Witzenberg community is picking up the pieces after nine people died in a fire in the Kalahari on Sunday.
  • The Carstens, Bauer and Davin families were staying in the Blinkwater lodge when the wooden structure caught fire shortly after 01:00.
  • A close family friend said they were all part of a tour group, and had already made plans for another weekend away on 5 September.

The friends, family and colleagues of nine people, including six children, who died in a devastating fire in the Kalahari on Sunday, are slowly coming to terms with the tragedy.

The Carstens, Bauer and Davin families, all living in the Witzenberg region, were staying in the Blinkwater lodge when the wooden structure caught fire shortly after 01:00, trapping several people inside.

Hendri Carstens, 39, his wife Dane, 36, and their children Pierre Johan, 5, and Magiel, 3, died in the fire.

Stefan Bauer, 39, and his daughters Inge, 7, and Elre, 4, also succumbed to the fire. He's survived by his wife Madelein.

Five-year-old Frans Davin and three-year-old Iza also died, while their father Frans was currently in hospital fighting severe burn wounds.

A close family friend of the three families, Herman Botha, who worked with Hendri at agriculture group Witzenberg Properties, told News24 that the families were part of a tour group.

Botha was best man at Hendri's wedding. The two men had studied together with Stefan at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Stellenbosch.

"All of us were always close friends, and we always made plans to go on holiday together," Botha said.

"The rest of us weren't able to join them this weekend away because our children were already in school, but we made plans to go camping together on 5 September, and then this tragedy happened."

Botha said everyone in the group's children were in similar age groups, and they were best friends.

"I told my children yesterday and they just cried. You know, my children lost their best friends, and I have lost mine."

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