Pensioner burns to death in ball of fire

Marisa Stevens

Marisa Stevens

A 72-year-old resident of a residence in Vrededorp, Johannesburg, died in a ball of flames when he was trapped inside his burning flat which had been locked from outside at the weekend.

Other members of the community of pensioners were left stranded after their Akasia Court block of flats was gutted on Saturday night.

Branch chairman of the South African National Civics Organisation, Peter Jacobs, said he suspected that the man was locked inside the flat after the fire was started by someone who locked the door and left with the key.

The dead man was known only as "Mandela" to residents.

Two flats at the residence have been completely gutted, including the one of "Mandela". The wooden ceilings of several others were also damaged.

M D Lethoba, whose flat also burnt down, said he did not know where he would go now. He was arrested on Saturday afternoon for allegedly assaulting "Mandela" on March 3 and discovered that he did not have a home anymore after he was released from Brixton police station on Monday. He was not aware of the fire.

Akasia Court pensioners are currently sleeping at the Jan Hofmeyer Recreational Centre in Vrededorp and are in need of blankets and financial aid.

Gauteng police could not say what caused the fire.