Five family members die in raging shack inferno
Five members of a family were burnt to death in their one-roomed shack at Chris Hani informal settlement in Temba, Hammanskraal, yesterday.
Lecria Shehlangu, 22, her children Khesani, 2, and Karabo, one year, and her siblings Peter, 13, and Thembile, 12, died in the fire, which started while they were asleep on Sunday night.
The fire was allegedly started by a candle that had been left burning when they went to bed.
Shehlangu's brother Timothy, 16, was watching movies at a neighbour's house when the shack caught fire. "I left the house with my friends at about 7pm to watch a movie at a nearby house. I noticed the house was on fire when we came back at about 11pm," said a visibly shocked Timothy.
He then ran to a neighbour's house with friends where they sought help, "but everybody was scared to go near the burning shack.
"They called the police and firefighters, who put out the fire and told us that everybody in the house had died."
He said he could not believe it until the charred bodies were carried into a police vehicle.
Shehlangu's mother, Louisa Retshore, 40, was at her boyfriend's house at the time of the tragedy.
Retshore, who is five months pregnant, was shocked: "I left my home at about 8pm after preparing food for them. Timothy went to watch TV with his friends because we don't have electricity.
"Everything was fine when I left for my boyfriend's house."
She said she received a call at about 11pm from a neighbour who told her that her house was on fire.
"When I got home people stopped me from going closer. I had no idea that all the children had died. How do I explain this to my family," wept Retshore.
The children's father, Johan Shehlangu, was treated for shock. "This feels like a dream. I do not stay with those children but God knows I love them.
"I don't have a stable income and I don't know where to start with the funeral arrangements," Shehlangu said.