But fire claims two children, an adult

McKeed Kotlolo

McKeed Kotlolo

Three Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, teenagers were hailed as heroes by their township after they rescued three people from a raging fire that killed two children and an adult, and destroyed their house.

The incident occurred at the Thandukukhanya section at Malfred in the Piet Retief area in the early hours of Saturday morning, said police.

The victims, whose bodies were burnt beyond recognition, were identified as Amahle Shabalala, 3, Dalisu Shabalala, 1, and Bongi Shabalala, 50. Those rescued from the burning house were Sandile Shabalala, 14, Vanessa Shabalala, 15, and Veli Nkosi, 37, a teacher at the Nqobile Primary School and Bongi's lover.

Inspector Thabiso Ncongwane of the eastern highveld area police at Secunda was full of praise for Mpumi Nyandeni, 16, Phumulani Nkosi, 16, and Vuyo Hlatshwayo, 14, all neighbours of the Shabalala family who rushed to the scene when they heard the screams inside the burning house and broke through the burglar bars to let the victims out.

"Nyandeni was the first at the scene and she called for help. She was then joined by the two boys, one of whom brought an axe which they then used to force open the burglar bars and windows. They then managed to rescue Vanessa, Sandile and Nkosi from the raging fire.

"Nkosi was, however, so drunk that he only woke up in hospital with serious facial burns," said Ncongwane.

According to police, Nkosi had returned home drunk from a night out when the house was gutted.

Ncongwane said police were also investigating a case of arson after forensic experts found traces of a flammable substance resembling petrol.

The inspector said both Sandile and Vanessa were treated and discharged from the Piet Retief Hospital. Nkosi was admitted with facial burns.