Grief engulfs mourners as young victims buried

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The bones of members of a family who died in a fire that razed their home last week were laid to rest at the weekend.

The five Maenetja family members, four children and a young woman, of Mokgolobotho village near Tzaneen, Limpopo, were buried during a mass funeral in the Mokgolobotho graveyard.

Provincial government officials, businessmen, politicians, teachers and school pupils attended the funeral, which was characterised by high emotions, shock and tears.

A total of 23 people, including school pupils, collapsed when the coffins of the deceased were lowered into one big grave.

The cost of the funeral was funded by the Greater Tzaneen municipality under the mayor Othaniel "OJ" Mushwana.

Speaking to the mourners, Mopani executive mayor Humphrey Mokgobi said the government was working with police and the community to ensure those responsible for the fire were brought to book.

He urged people to report crime or any kind of abuse.

"We will not fold our arms and wait for a few riffraff to kill our beloved family members and friends like flies. We will fight with whatever we have to make sure that peace reigns in our communities," he said.

The family was asleep on Monday night when they were trapped by the blaze and burnt to death. Neighbours, woken up by the cries of the helpless family went to help extinguish the fire, but in vain.

The deceased were Suzan Maenetja, 26, Mary, 16, Julia, 5, Previous, 4, and Kamogelo, 1.

Their mother escaped with third-degree burns and is still fighting for her life at the Mankweng Hospital.

Superintendent Moatshe Ngoepe said police were following up on "very sensitive information".