grAnny burns TO death in house fiRE

SHELL: Khensani Sannie Phakula lost her life in the fire that destroyed her home. © Sowetan.
SHELL: Khensani Sannie Phakula lost her life in the fire that destroyed her home. © Sowetan.

Alex Matlala

A Limpopo pensioner was burnt to death by a raging fire that gutted her Tzaneen house yesterday morning.

Khensani Sannie Phakula, 62, who was alone at the time, was allegedly trying to retrieve her identity document which was left in the house after the fire began.

"She came running out of the burning house but went back in to try and retrieve her identity document that she used to collect her pension," said a villager who wished to remain anonymous.

The villager said Phakula's only son, Donald, died in March in a fatal car accident.

A local ward councillor, Tsunami Ndove, said Phakula's lifeless body was found by police in the gutted house.

Ndove said the house was completely destroyed.

Greater Tzaneen municipality manager Mabakane Mangena said yesterday that they had dispatched a group of senior officials to assess the damage.

"Their report will guide us on what type of assistance will be needed during and after the funeral," Mangena said.

Ritavi station commissioner Aifheli Reginald Mulaudzi said police were investigating a case of suspected arson and murder.

"At the moment we cannot tell if the fire was caused by a candle, bad electric wiring or by a human being.

"We are still investigating the cause and hope to have something tangible soon. We also hope that someone in the community might help us," he said.

Provincial spokesman for the department of health and social development, Phuti Seloba, said they were more than happy to help Phakula's family with funeral arrangements and food parcels.

Seloba said it was also understood that Phakula was taking care of her grandchildren whose parents had apparently died.

"We will also help the children register for grants so they can live better lives even after the death of their grandmother," he said.