Mother loses five children, aged 1 to 26, in mysterious mud hut fire

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

A Limpopo mother has lost five of her children after fire razed her home in Tzaneen yesterday. The woman is recovering in hospital with third-degree burns.

The community of Mokgolobotho outside Tzaneen is reeling from shock after the deaths of four children and a young woman who perished in the fire that engulfed their home while they were sleeping.

A man is being questioned, but it is not clear he is suspected of starting the fire.

Police spokesman in the Mopani area, Superintendent Moatshe Ngoepe, said the ages of the victims ranged from one to 26.

He said the occupants of the one-roomed mud hut were sleeping when the children's mother was woken by a loud bang. She went to investigate.

When she realised there was a fire, she tried to flee, but could not escape unhurt.

Ngoepe said the victims were identified as Suzan, 26, Mary, 16, Julia, 5, Previous, 4, and Kamogelo, 1.

He said the mother, in her 50's, had been admitted to hospital with severe burns.

The motive for the attack is not known, said Ngoepe.

He said investigations were continuing.

Ngoepe said: "So far one man is being held for questioning in connection with the attack.

"It is not clear yet whether he is directly linked to the incident. Only investigations will reveal that in time."

He said: "We can only confirm that we are following leads regarding the matter and, if he is found to be connected, the suspect will face five counts of murder. If more people are shown to be involved, they too will face similar charges"

Ngoepe said it was also not known what devices were used in the attack. It would only be determined after ballistic experts complete their investigations.

"We condemn these kinds of attacks on defenseless people.

"Whoever carried out this heinous crime should know the law will catch up."