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Mom in burning Ford grateful she left her toddlers at home with granny

A police officer inspects the Ford after it caught fire on a Honeydew, Johannesburg, road June 4 2019
A police officer inspects the Ford after it caught fire on a Honeydew, Johannesburg, road June 4 2019
Image: Alaister Russell, Sunday Times

A mother of two toddlers was driving to work when her Ford Fiesta "randomly stopped working" and caught fire in the middle of a busy Honeydew road on Tuesday.

Mpho Khanye was alerted to the problem only when a good samaritan told her the car was burning.

"This guy came rushing up and urged me to get out of the vehicle. I was confused but I got out anyway. He asked me if I needed anything from the boot but I couldn't even remember what was in there," she told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE. 

She had time only to grab her handbag, cellphone and a work jacket before watching her car go up in flames.

The distraught mother said it felt unreal.

"It still feels like I am dreaming, I mean I was just driving, moments later my car is on fire. I am glad I made it out alive. It hurts to think that I too could have made the statistics ... I actually don't want to even think about it," Khanye said.

Khanye said her daily routine included taking her two children to daycare and then reporting for work, but she had spontaneously decided not to take the toddlers to daycare on Tuesday. 

"It was just one of those days. I felt quite down and didn't feel like anything, I did not even apply make-up. Even with the kids, I just thought I won't take them with me, but leave them with my mother," she said. 

Khanye is relieved and grateful they were not in the car with her.

"As confused as I was when the car started burning, how was I going take my kids out ..." she said. 

A motorist who witnessed the incident said: "When a person is experiencing problems, they normally hit the indicators to alert everybody else, but this Ford mysteriously stopped. As we were trying to get a sense of what was happening, it just blew."

Khanye said she was shocked it happened to her because she had never experienced any problems with her vehicle before today.  

"It was working just fine, I've never experienced any problems with it. I've had it for about five years with no issues whatsoever," she said.   

The Joburg metro police department was on the scene but referred media queries to its spokesperson, Wayne Minnaar, who had not responded by the time of publishing.   

Moments after the fire was extinguished, Khanye helplessly stood on the side of the road, while other cars continued to pass by as normal.

As shock started to set in, she sobbed: "I am shaking, scared. It somehow feels like I was watching a horrible movie."

Ford South Africa had not returned requests for comment by Tuesday afternoon. This story will be updated when they respond.

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