Thieves make off with valuables, meat as Cape Town family of 3 die in Wendy house fire

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A Cape Town family of three died after their backyard house was gutted by a blaze in the early hours of Friday morning.
A Cape Town family of three died after their backyard house was gutted by a blaze in the early hours of Friday morning.
Supplied by cuncillor Washiela Harris
  • A grieving Cape Town family who lost three family members in a fire became the target of brazen thieves early on Friday morning.
  • The fire gutted a Wendy house in Tafelsig killing its occupants, Liberty Gurapin, his girlfriend Charne Witbooi, and their six-year-old daughter Tina Witbooi.
  • While their relatives were trying to douse the blaze, thieves took three TVs, a cellphone, meat and other valuables from the main house.  

While a family of three were overcome and killed in a blaze that gutted their backyard dwelling in Cape Town, brazen thieves ransacked the main house as family members tried to douse the flames.

The fire in the early hours of Friday destroyed the Wendy house in Tunnel Street, Tafelsig, killing its occupants, Liberty Gurapin, his girlfriend Charne Witbooi, and their six-year-old daughter Tina Witbooi.

Charne's sister, Shannnon Lawrence, and her husband, Jerome, and their four children stay in the main house.

While they were trying to save their loved ones, thieves took advantage of their absence and ransacked their house. 

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

Ward councillor Washiela Harris told News24 the thieves stole three TV sets, a cellphone, clothes, home décor, ornaments, bedding and a large quantity of meat.

"I feel angry and ashamed that a human being can stoop so low to steal from people that are going through a tragedy like this," she said.

Harris added she had called Mayor Dan Plato and informed him about the plight of the family and he provided them with food parcels.

"The deceased people did not have a burial cover, so the mayor's office is going to assist there as well."

Jerome told News24 he was devastated before his cellphone was cut off. 

He could not be reached again as his phone went straight to voicemail. 

ALSO READ School sanitiser explosion: Third Eastern Cape pupil dies

Harris said his battery probably died because the blaze had caused an electricity and water outage in the street. 

"We only got water back this evening, but the electricity is still off," she added.  

dan plato
Cape Town mayor Dan Plato has donated food parcels to a family that has lost three relatives in a backyard house fire.

Western Cape police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut said the victims were aged six, 26 and 27. 

He added the cause of the fire was yet to be determined. 

"Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of three people after they succumbed in a fire in their Wendy house in Tunnel Street, Tafelsig, this morning at around 04:00."

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said they were alerted of the fire at 01:45 and it was extinguished at 03:08.

"At the scene, firefighters found two informal dwellings ablaze and the bodies of the father, mother and their daughter were discovered among the debris." 

After the fire was doused, Carelse said, the scene was handed over to the police.

Three fire crews from Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Ottery responded to the blaze, he added. 

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